Sri Lanka ‘at risk of running out of food and fuel’ and could slide into ‘anarchy’, says former energy minister | world news

Sri Lanka could run out of fuel and food next month, according to the former energy minister.

Udaya Gammanpila was sacked earlier this year for criticizing government policy that has brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

The former energy minister told Sky News that the economic crisis in his country was reaching a tipping point which could lead to the collapse of agriculture, medical services and industrial production, leading to “the ‘anarchy”.

He issued the warning before Sri LankaPresident Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide state of emergency on Friday evening from midnight.

It happens amid widespread protests calling for the resignation of Mr. Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, who is Prime Minister, while Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis in recent memory.

The government notice states that a state of emergency has been declared in the interest of public safety.

It is the second time in five weeks that the president has declared a state of emergency, giving him sweeping powers and allowing him to control protests.

The latest move comes as a general strike across Sri Lanka halted business and transport in the capital Colombo, and saw police use water cannons and tear gas against protesters.

Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa are accused of nepotism and blamed by many for a crisis that has seen Sri Lanka’s usable foreign exchange reserves fall below $50m (£40m), leaving it dependent on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and India. and China, for the credit required to import fuel, food and cooking gas.

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Sri Lankans demand the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (left) and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Rajapaksa brothers have faced protests for more than a month amid fuel shortages, soaring medicine and food prices and blackouts imposed to ration power supply.

Earlier this week, the finance minister admitted the country barely had enough money to buy a single fuel tanker, leaving it almost entirely dependent on a line of credit from India for petrol , diesel and kerosene.

Sri Lankan students flee tear gas during a protest outside parliament in the capital
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Sri Lankan students flee tear gas during a protest outside parliament in the capital Colombo

Sri Lanka is in negotiations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as with its main creditors, India and China.

Mr Gammanpila, who was sacked in March for criticizing the government’s monetary policy, said the consequences of the economic crisis could be disastrous.

“Basically, Sri Lanka currently has no foreign currency reserves,” he said.

“There is a risk of fuel shortages in the near future as in the past three months we have benefited from India’s line of credit which has supplied Sri Lanka with $500 million worth of petroleum products.

“It’s now fully utilized, so we risk running out of all kinds of fuel. It’s like a man without blood, the body dies. The situation is terrible.”

Udaya Gammanpila was sacked earlier this year for criticizing government policy
Picture:
Udaya Gammanpila was sacked earlier this year for criticizing government policy

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He also warned of food shortages, caused in part by a disastrous decision to ban chemical fertilizer imports last year. Relying only on organic produce has seen crop yields plummet, leaving an abundant island that is no longer self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, and causing dramatic increases in the prices of staples, including rice.

“In the near future, Sri Lanka will need to import vegetables, fruits and cereals like rice and maize for consumption. But due to shortage of foreign exchange, we are unable to do so for the moment. In the coming months, certainly, there will be a food shortage.”

Following an emergency cabinet meeting, it was reported that the president had asked his brother to step down as prime minister.