Country halts fuel sales as it faces an energy crisis . . .
On Monday, the government of Sri Lanka announced a two-week halt on non-essential fuel sales. The country faces an acute energy crisis due to unexpected delays in fuel imports for banking and logistical reasons. The price of petrol has risen by almost 22 per cent, and the island nation is requesting emergency supplies from the international community. Meanwhile, the fuel crisis has led to long queues, angry mobs, and rioting. In one case, the Sri Lankan army opened fire at a fuel station, injuring four civilians with three soldiers also injured in the clash. The fuel crisis could bring the entire country to a halt, forcing the closure of hospitals, schools, and transportation.
Gotabaya’s wings clipped . . .
The family of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, prominent in Sri Lankan politics for years, is losing in the court of public opinion as citizens blame the Rajapaksas for their country’s economic collapse. While Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned earlier this year, the president has remained in his position despite public pressure to step down. On June 21, the Cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Constitution that would limit his powers, including the president’s ability to head multiple ministries and appoint and fire ministers at will. The amendment would help Parliament reclaim its independence and allow it to take necessary steps to rescue a country reeling from one of the worst economic crises the world has seen in years.
Rough road ahead . . .
The International Monetary Fund visited Sri Lanka last week to discuss and structure the country’s loan program. Sri Lankan representatives are also reaching out to countries like India, China, and Canada for support. Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Canada, Harsha Navaratne, noted in a CBC interview that Canada had allocated C$1 million for essential medication. There are also reports of ongoing discussion at Global Affairs Canada about sending fertilizer, gas, and other essentials. Meanwhile, Canadians of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage have noted that the Sri Lankan government’s sanctions on Tamil organizations, stemming from the country’s history of ethnic conflict, are impeding the diaspora’s efforts to provide much-needed assistance.