Saturday, June 15, 2024

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Sri Lanka Faces Acute Food Shortages and Starvation Amid Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka’s political turmoil and economic crisis have brought about a catastrophic food shortage, with the nation’s 21 million residents now forced to pay triple for basics like rice, sugar, lentils and milk powder.

The cause of the crisis stems back to Sri Lanka not having enough money to adequately pay for heavily-relied upon imports. The nation’s foreign currency reserves — money held by Sri Lanka from other countries, like United States dollars or Indian rupees — have dropped by 70% over the past two years.

A Sri Lankan economic expert, said financial mismanagement by the present government and the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic put Sri Lanka in the precarious economic position in the first place. 

“Instead of forcing its citizens to starve, the government needs to enact structural reforms economists have been recommending for years,” he said adding that  “It must lift its suffocating import restrictions and raise taxes on those who can afford them.”

At present Sri Lanka is expecting a severe food shortage. The authorities are yet to find solutions to the upcoming food shortage and cite the dollar crisis as the reason behind not being able to find a solution to the issue.

Very soon there will be no food items in the market for people to buy. Even now there are some essential food items which are not found in the market because of the lack of dollars which   is needed to release the imported food stocks stored in vessels stuck at the port. People are force to live amidst these problems.

 Small businesses are unable to import food. However some businesses and racketeers importing food in large scale were given dollars to import essential food items. Some of them are only focused on their commission even amidst  the crisis,” Thushan Gunawardene Former Executive Director CAA said.

 There is a scarcity of certain essential food items already such as garlic, onions, mung beans, cowpea, chickpeas, dhal, coconut oil, milk powder, dried fish, fish, meat varieties, corn, wheat flour and rice. 

Even if they are imported, given the prevailing dollar crisis, their prices keep increasing daily. A kilo of mung beans is 1000 rupees whereas rice costs more than 200 rupees a kilo. Coconut oil costs around 800-1000 rupees and a kilo of dhal has increased to 600 rupees. A kilo of imported milk powder costs around 2000 rupees. 

With the recent price hike of wheat flour, a loaf of bread costs 150 rupees. The problem however is the lack of essential food items despite price hikes. 

Traders and importers increase prices of food items daily claiming that the rupee has depreciated against the dollar. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and the responsible state authorities turn a blind eye to these matters. 

There is a scarcity of food items in shops around the country. People are queuing up in search of food. 

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