For bankrupt Sri Lanka, the process of revival will be painful, uncertain as well as long-drawn. People's patience has run out and the challenge for the new government, if put in place, will be to rebuild trust with the civil society as the going would get even tougher.
“Whoever ends up running Sri Lanka will inherit a crisis without an easy solution. The country is essentially bankrupt, financial straits made worse by rising inflation worldwide,” Milan Vaishnav, Director, Carnegie South Asia said in a tweet.
Though Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that they would resign Wednesday, so far nothing has come through. While Gotabaya has fled the country, Wickremesinghe has now declared a state of emergency. Yesterday Sri Lanka’s former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is also Gotabaya’s brother, was not allowed to leave the country.
In a normal scenario, in the absence of the President, the Prime Minister takes charge in Sri Lana but earlier Wickremesinghe, who admitted that the economy had totally collapsed, too had announced to resign.
The country will further slip into an economic mess as talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other bilateral lenders will only get delayed. A new all-party government is expected to be in place but the situation will not change in the short or medium term.
“Sri Lanka is going through a severe economic crisis. The economy is expected to contract significantly in 2022, while inflation is high and rising. The critically low level of foreign reserves has hampered the import of essential goods. During the in-person visit, the team witnessed some of the hardships currently faced by the Sri Lankan people, especially the poor and vulnerable who are affected disproportionately by the crisis. We reaffirm our commitment to support Sri Lanka at this difficult time in line with the IMF’s policies,” the IMF said on June 30.
But things have taken a turn since then.
Sri Lankans are left with almost nothing to eat.
“When there is nothing to eat and everyday is a struggle for survival, who would even think of education or schools..can you imagine the future of these children?,” a Sri Lankan resident who managed to escape the country told India Narrative. “Nobody is willing to believe any of these politicians..we were told in December that the country will not default and then within just a few months things took such a turn..can anyone trust them?” he added.
The New York Times said that the ordinary Sri Lankans are paying the price for government mismanagement and missteps.
Also read: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya flees in military plane from Colombo to Maldives