Colombo: Sri Lanka has accepted the shipment of rice and medicines from neighboring India as the island nation fights an unprecedented economic crisis that has emptied supermarket shelves and pharmacy cabinets. Due to a serious foreign currency shortage, Sri Lanka has been unable to pay enough imported food, fuel and medicines to meet demand since the end of last year, causing widespread difficulties.
The 22 million people are also forced to withstand long-term daily power outages and inflation surges that are putting pressure on households. India has expanded its $ 1.5 billion credit line to help Sri Lanka continue to meet some of its food and energy needs. Friday shipments followed a visit by Indian experts for aid negotiations. “The two parties have discussed in detail the future course of action of India’s aid program to stabilize and revive the Sri Lankan economy,” Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said after the meeting. This week, a serious shortage of gasoline left Sri Lanka immobile, and Congress canceled two days of seats to save fuel.
The United Nations called for emergency food aid last week after investigations showed that four out of five people in Sri Lanka were skipping meals to deal with the crisis. Next week, a delegation from the US Treasury will assess the crisis in the capital Colombo, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told lawmakers Wednesday that the country’s economy had reached a stage of “complete collapse.” Sri Lanka is already in default of $ 51 billion in external debt and is in talks to bail out with the International Monetary Fund, which could take months.
In another development, the president of Sri Lanka, who is struggling to raise funds on Friday, appoints Damika Perera, the island’s largest casino operator, as the investment minister responsible for China-funded tax exemption outposts in poor South Asian countries. did. A 54-year-old businessman known as Sri Lanka’s “Casino King” was pledged by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at his seaside residence to attract foreign capital to the country, his office said.
Perera replaced Rajapaksa’s youngest brother, Basil, who resigned from parliament two weeks ago. The president refused to resign and instead appointed opposition member Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new prime minister to save the economy last month. Cheong Wa Dae said Perella’s Ministry of Investment will be responsible for the $ 1.4 billion “Port City” landfill project, which is a tax-exempt landfill in Colombo.
The United States has expressed concern that Portcity could become a “paradise for money launderers and other types of malicious actors.” Western powers and regional powers India have long expressed concern about China’s growing influence in strategically located Sri Lanka. Perella will be cabinetd with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who described Casino King as one of the four corrupt businessmen in the country in support of the Rajapaksa clan in 2015.
Perella herself pledged praise and loyalty to Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned as prime minister on May 9, after a fierce national protest over a shortage of essentials, including fuel. Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis, and 22 million people have endured a serious shortage of food, fuel and medicine for months as the government runs out of money to raise money for even the most important imports. I am.
Perella claims on his website that he plans to more than triple Sri Lanka’s per capita GDP from the current $ 3,682 to $ 12,000. He has $ 5 billion by selling a 10-year residence visa to about 50,000 foreigners who are willing to deposit $ 100,000 in a local bank account, a scheme already in place since April. He said he would raise foreign currency deposits. The country defaulted $ 51 billion in external debt in April and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund on possible bailouts. – AFP