Ranil urges government to speed up credit line with India before food riots break out

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday urged the government to finalise the credit line with India to purchase food, fuel, etc., as soon as possible. Wickremesinghe told the media that the foreign exchange crisis and the general deterioration of the economy had pushed the people to the brink of rioting.

“People can’t tolerate this anymore. The businesses are down, people are losing jobs, the middle class is shrinking, and the farmers are ruined. The government is blaming COVID-19 for everything but there are a lot of countries that have done well in the last two years. We too can solve these,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said that the government should go to the IMF now or should present an acceptable alternative to the country. Since, neither had been done, the people were angry, he said.

The former Prime Minister claimed that the looming food crisis would push the citizens towards starvation and that nothing could stop a full blown food crisis, by the 2022 Sinhala and Tamil New Year, if Sri Lanka continued on the current trajectory.

“The most optimistic forecast is that the harvest will be 60% compared to last year. Imagine the political impact of hunger. People will be angry and the slightest thing will trigger chaos. It is not good for the government, Parliament or the citizens. We must avoid this at all costs,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka was trying to obtain a Central Bank swap and credit lines for fuel, food and medicines from India and that the government must finalise those agreements as soon as possible.

“Getting a swap and credit lines will not solve the forex crisis but at least we will have food, fuel and medicine in the country. Until we figure out a medium or long term solution to the forex crisis, we must at least try to prevent chaos in the next few months,” he said.

(Source: The Island)