Sri Lankan fishermen are suffering. The country’s fuel shortages mean they’re stuck in the harbor, unable to fish. They’re just 1 group struggling as the country faces its worst economic outlook in decades. The repercussions have spilled over into coastal families who subsist on cheap seafood.
Arulanandan (Fisherman)if i don’t go fishing today, I can’t bring home food to my family. And they will be upset because they don’t unders stand the extent of the problem we face.
In the capital Colombo, long lines formed as Sri Lankans queued for hours for fuel. Some took to the streets and blamed their plight on government mismanagement.
Denzil Fernando (President, Negombo fishing association)Some families, on a given day, can only afford to have a meal after the fisher man goes out at sea to catch fish and sell it. They are now being pushed to the limit.
Sri Lankan Officials have announced nationwide 13-hour daily power cuts from March 31. The government says the country is in the worst economic position since independence in 1948. The crisis was sparked by an acute lack of foreign currency needed to pay for vital imports.
Mohammed Afker (University student)We’re not even able to get essential items like petrol, that’s how much we’ve been pushed to the brink. Our future has become a question mark. That is why we are here protesting because this system needs to change.
Foreign currency reserves have fallen by about 70% in the last 2 years. Failed agricultural policies also seriously hurt the tea and rice industries last year. Together with the currency problems, it has let to food shortages and a rise in food prices.
Sri Lanka also has billions of foreign debt to repay in 2022 which has been exacerbated by tax cuts. The pandemic also ravaged tourism, which accounts for 12% of its total economic output. The government is in talks about assistance with the International Monetary Fund.
China and India, who are vying for influence in the island nation, are also sources of economic aid. India recently extended a US$912 million loan and US$1 billion in credit for food and fuel. However, Sri Lanka also recently sought US$2.5 billion worth of aid from Beijing. The Request is under consideration but would deepen the massive debt it already owes China.