Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stated that Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of a major foreign exchange crisis and has warned of “hunger and massive unemployment” in the country by the middle of next year if the government does not take appropriate action.
“We have USD 4 billion in reserves. After we settle the bond issues in the middle of the year, we will be left with another billion US dollars. As a result, we will be around USD 3 billion.”
“The unpaid dollar bills of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) amount to USD 1.3 billion,” the UNP leader stated in a special statement issued on Wednesday (14) regarding the country’s current economic situation.
“The banks are undergoing a foreign exchange crisis; there are no dollars, as you are aware. The banks owe money to foreign banks. The Central Bank has not disclosed the amounts, but I am told they are in the range of USD 3 billion.”
He stated that these two debts alone come to USD 4.3 billion and that Sri Lanka currently has in in its reserves about USD 3 billion of which another over a billion US dollars will be utilized to service the bonds and to settle the bonds end of the year.
“What are we left with? This is the major foreign exchange crisis we have. No imports are allowed. Parents can’t pay the fees of their children studying abroad. Similarly, we cannot bring in fertilizer.”
“This whole organic fertilizer is just a cover for the government’s bankruptcy,” Wickremesinghe charged.
“There is an oil tanker in the port and we can’t find the dollars to pay the oil tanker. We have limited money that’s why all the vaccines we have are limited to those over the age of 30. Others do not have any vaccines.”
The UNP MP said Sri Lanka is facing a serious situation. “No one has given us money. The IMF has decided to issue USD 650 billion to be divided among the 190 member nations. Under that we will receive USD 800 million. But that is not enough.”
Wickremesinghe said that cannot cover everything and that since there is no other alternative Sri Lanka must go to the IMF and negotiate with the IMF that we have sufficient money for the next two years.
“Similarly, the IMF certificate will enable us to get more from India, China, Japan and the other countries. If we do not do this there will be hunger and massive unemployment somewhere in the middle of next year.”
“We have to prevent that. The government has to prevent it. The Parliament has to prevent it,” he stressed.
The former Prime Minister said that the control of public finance lies in parliament and therefore they will be asking for a full debate in parliament for the government to explain how they are going to overcome this crisis.
“We all must be aware of this situation and force the government to take some positive steps.”
Inputs: Ada Derana
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill