As Sri Lanka is suffering from a severe economic crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday called upon the international community to help Sri Lanka meet the essential requirements of medicines, food supplies, and fuel to overcome the issue.
"We are presently undergoing a severe economic crisis that has profoundly impacted the lives of all Sri Lankans, resulting in social unrest. We urgently require the assistance of our friends in the international community and I appeal to the other friends of Sri Lanka to also explore the possibility of extending support and solidarity to my country at this very difficult time," said Rajapaksa while addressing the 27th International Conference on Future of Asia (Nikkei) held in Tokyo, Japan via video call, reported the Daily Mirror.
Sri Lanka recently defaulted on the entirety of its foreign debt amounting to about USD 51 billion, due to an acute shortage of foreign exchange caused by a fall in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reckless economic policies, which have resulted in the country being unable to buy enough fuel, and people facing an acute scarcity of food and basic necessities, heating fuel, and gas.
"The virtual shutting down of the tourism industry and the sharp decline in inward remittances from expatriate workers due to COVID-19 in the past two years and increasing inflation due to other events combined with Sri Lanka's high outstanding debt obligations to cause a severe financial crisis," the President said.
"An even more widespread problem that the world will face in future concerns food security. The shortages of food items and sharp increases in food prices likely to occur in the months ahead will place considerable strain on many countries," the Daily Mirror quoted the president as saying.
The President pointed out that the Ukraine-Russia conflict has added to the crisis of the country suffering in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic thus urging the international communities to extend support to such vulnerable nations. He stressed that the increased cooperation among nations will also be necessary to ensure that we overcome the crisis in the country.
"The grave difficulties facing Sri Lanka are an early indication of the long-tail effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, made worse by the ongoing conflict in Europe that may affect other vulnerable nations too. Supporting such vulnerable nations through these difficulties is essential for regional as well as global stability," he said.
"As we work through such solutions, however, we urgently require the assistance of our friends in the international community to ensure that our immediate needs in terms of the importation of essential medicines, food supplies, and fuel are met," President Rajapaksa added.
He highlighted the need to pay attention to this crucial problem and prioritise agricultural production locally. He urged the countrymen to adapt and find ways to face the coming issue.
"Japan remains one of Sri Lanka's key development partners, and we hope that the negotiations now underway regarding bridging funds from Japan will conclude soon and support Sri Lanka as we try to stabilise our economy and our nation," the Daily Mirror quoted Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence with food and fuel shortages, soaring prices, and power cuts. As the economy is in no good state, it is evident that there is a high risk of rising international interest rates. The danger of rising international food prices is also being observed at this moment.