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Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa removes relatives from cabinet, admits his mistake about IMF

Punjab Tribune Bureau | April 19, 2022 11:00 AM

COLOMBO: Amidst the severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday appointed a new cabinet consisting of 17 ministers.

Rajapaksa, who is facing charges of familialism, has not included any of his relatives except Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in the new cabinet.

Due to the deepening economic crisis, the demand for Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation is gaining momentum in Sri Lanka.

According to the news report, the Sri Lankan President admitted that banning chemical fertilizers in the year 2020 was his wrong decision. Due to this, there was a huge reduction in food production in the country.

Rajapaksa also admitted that his government was late in seeking a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. "It was a mistake not to go to the IMF," he said.

Sri Lanka is facing the most severe economic crisis ever since its independence from Britain in 1948. Due to the decrease in foreign exchange reserves, there has been a shortage of food items and fuel in the country and the prices are skyrocketing.

 

Alongside the acute shortages, Sri Lanka is also facing record inflation and lengthy electricity blackouts, as the government has run out of foreign currency to import fuel.

Lanka IOC, a petrol retailer which accounts for a third of the local market, announced yet another steep hike in fuel costs on Monday to account for the collapse in the value of the local currency.

The cost of diesel, the fuel most commonly used for public transport, has risen by 138 percent since the start of the year while petrol prices have nearly doubled.

The government last week announced a default on Sri Lanka's $51-billion foreign debt and the Colombo Stock Exchange has suspended trading to prevent an anticipated market collapse.

Rajapaksa's parliamentary majority has been thrown into question after former allies deserted the ruling coalition.

The opposition has said it will attempt to topple the government through a no-confidence vote in the coming weeks.

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