The Sri Lankan parliament reapplied for the first time on Tuesday after violence erupted last week and the prime minister resigned, as his successors warned that the country was in a precarious economic situation and had run out of petrol supplies.
New Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a televised speech on Monday that the island nation would have to face “unpleasant and frightening information”.
“Right now, we only have one day’s supply of petrol. The next few months will be the most difficult month of our lives,” he said.
Foreign reserves reached close to zero from 7. 7.5 billion in November 2019, he added, adding that the country needs $ 75 million over the next few days to keep the economy afloat. Essential medicines are gone.
Lack of fuel can lead to power outages lasting up to 15 hours a day, which are mostly imported.
Prime Minister Bikram Singh has said he plans to seek foreign aid, privatize SriLankan Airlines and seek parliamentary approval to raise the Treasury bill issue from 3 3 trillion to 4 4 trillion (11 11.27 billion).
“In the short term, our future will be even tougher than the difficult times,” he said.
More than a month of peaceful protests, mainly against the government’s handling of the economy, turned violent last week when supporters of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stormed an anti-government protest site in the commercial capital, Colombo.
Nine people were killed and more than 300 were injured in subsequent clashes between protesters, government supporters and police.
Mahinda Rajapaksa then resigned, leaving his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rule as president.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, unprecedented since independence in 1948, has come from the Covid-19 epidemic, rising oil prices and the confluence of populist tax cuts by the Rajapaksas.
Prolonged foreign exchange deficits have led to massive inflation and shortages of medicines, fuel and other essentials, with thousands taking to the streets in the Indian Ocean country where China and India are fighting for influence.
To date, four cabinets of PM Vikramasinghe have been appointed from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party to frustrate the protesters, who want to expel the family from the country’s politics.
He has not yet announced the key portfolios, including key positions for the finance minister, who will negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance.
Former finance minister Ali Sabri had initial talks with the multilateral lender, but he resigned last week with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)