‘We are going to die’, What’s happening in Sri Lanka now ?, “It’s an economic crisis that was brought on by a political crisis, and now we're just generally in crisis.”
The prime minister warns of a food crisis after ban on chemical fertilisers by the previous government drastically cut crop yields.
Published On 20 May 202220 May 2022
Sri Lanka’s prime minister has warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis and promises to buy enough fertiliser for the next planting season to boost harvests.
A decision in April last year by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ban all chemical fertilisers drastically cut crop yields and although the government has reversed the ban, no substantial imports have yet taken place.
“While there may not be time to obtain fertiliser for this Yala [May-August] season, steps are being taken to ensure adequate stocks for the Maha [September-March] season,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a message on Twitter late on Thursday.
“I sincerely urge everyone to accept the gravity of the … situation.”
President Rajapaksa appointed nine new members to the cabinet on Friday, including to the critical health, trade and tourism ministries.
The new ministers for the critical health, trade and tourism departments were sworn in by the president at his tightly-guarded official residence in Colombo, the government said in a brief statement.
Two legislators from the main opposition SJB party broke ranks to join the new government. Another opposition party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, agreed to support President Rajapaksa and was given one portfolio.
However, the finance position – which will bring with it responsibility for leading negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a bailout – remains vacant.
There are speculations that the portfolio is likely to be retained by Wickremesinghe.
The delay in announcing a finance minister could hinder Sri Lanka’s negotiations with the IMF, the central bank chief warned on Thursday.
Tourism-dependent Sri Lanka is facing a dire shortage of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines, and economic activity has slowed to a crawl. - al jazeera