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Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Highlights: Central bank to hold monetary board meeting; Ali Sabry appointed as finance minister

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Highlights: Replacing his brother Basil Rajapaksa, the President named Ali Sabry who was until Sunday night the Minister of Justice as the new Finance Minister

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 5, 2022 8:13:16 am
Sajith Premadasa, leader of the Opposition alliance marches along with others towards Independence Square as they shout slogans against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after the government imposed a curfew, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 3, 2022. (Reuters)

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Highlights: The central bank of Sri Lanka will hold its monetary board meeting on Monday after Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal tendered his resignation. “The Monetary Board meeting will be held on Monday as previously scheduled. There is no change,” news agency Reuters quoted two sources close to the matter as saying.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Monday invited the Opposition to accept ministerial portfolios. A statement by his office informed that the President called on all parties to come together and help find a way out of the country’s worst economic crisis. He named four Ministers on Monday “to ensure Parliament and other tasks can be conducted in a lawful manner until a full Cabinet can be sworn in” after all 26 Cabinet Ministers resigned on Sunday night. Replacing his brother Basil Rajapaksa, the President named Ali Sabry, who was until Sunday night the Minister of Justice, as the new Finance Minister. Previous ministers of Foreign Affairs, Education and Highways kept their positions, Reuters reported.

A coalition partner, however, has slammed the appointments, with Udaya Gammanpila, the chief of one of the 11 political parties comprising the ruling coalition, calling the new cabinet “old wine in a new bottle”. Gammanpila called for Parliamentary elections, stating, “People should decide their next leaders, not anybody else.”

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Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Highlights: Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers resign with immediate effect; Country faces its worst economic crisis; Sri Lanka denies reports of Indian troops in country. Follow latest updates here

20:36 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lankan economic crisis may provide opportunities for Indian tea exporters: Experts

Mounting economic woes in Sri Lanka, a major player in the global tea market, may provide opportunities for Indian exporters of the commodity as the island country is set to witness a significant decline in its production and shipments this year, industry stakeholders and experts said on Monday. Sri Lanka produces around 300 million kg of tea annually and is predominantly an orthodox tea producer. The country exports around 97-98 per cent of its annual output, rating agency ICRA Ltd's vice president Kaushik Das said. --PTI

19:47 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lankan police fire tear gas, water cannons to quell protests in front of PM's home

Sri Lankan police fired tear gas and water cannons at some 2,000 irate protesters who defied curfew orders and tried to storm Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's residence in Tangalle on Monday, demanding his resignation amid the worst economic crisis in the country. Around 2,000 people descended near the Prime Minister's residence known as Carlton House in Tangalle, situated 200 km south of Colombo, and pulled down barricades chanting anti-Rajapaksa slogans. Interestingly, Tangalle, which has a Sinhalese-majority population, is considered to be the bastion of the powerful Rajapaksa clan. --PTI

16:08 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Central bank to hold monetary board meeting

The central bank of Sri Lanka will hold its monetary board meeting on Monday after Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal tendered his resignation. "The Monetary Board meeting will be held on Monday as previously scheduled. There is no change," news agency Reuters quoted two sources close to the matter as saying.

15:22 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Lankan Prez sacks Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday fired his brother and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa from his post and invited the Opposition parties to join a unity Cabinet to tackle the raging public anger against the hardships caused by the island nation's worst economic crisis. Basil had negotiated the Indian economic relief package to help Sri Lanka tackle the current foreign exchange crisis. --PTI

14:24 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Watch | 'Go Gota': Opposition demands President Rajapaksa's resignations

In a protest on Sunday, Opposition leaders demanded the resignation of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa. They also protested against the curfew, which was imposed by the government till Monday morning, calling it an infringement of rights. 

14:01 (IST)04 Apr 2022
'Old wine in new bottle', says coalition partner as Sri Lankan President names four Ministers

"Four ministers were appointed to ensure Parliament and other tasks can be conducted in a lawful manner until a full Cabinet can be sworn in," Rajapaksa's media office said in a statement after cabinet ministers resigned in a bid to resolve the crisis. It said Justice Minister Ali Sabry would be the new finance minister, replacing Gotabaya's brother Basil Rajapaksa. Previous ministers of foreign affairs, education and highways will keep their positions.

Udaya Gammanpila, the chief of one of the 11 political parties comprising the ruling coalition, rejected Rajapaksa's move, calling the new cabinet "old wine in a new bottle". "Our demand is for an all-party interim government to restore essential services and to hold a parliamentary election," Gammanpila of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya party wrote on Twitter. "People should decide their next leaders, not anybody else." (Reuters)

13:22 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Following the Cabinet resignations, President names four Ministers

Following the mass resignation of Cabinet ministers Sunday night, President Rajapaksa on Monday announced at least four new Ministers, according to news agency PTI. 

Replacing his brother Basil Rajapaksa, the President named Ali Sabry, who was until Sunday night the Minister of Justice, as the new Finance Minister. G L Peiris has been retained as the Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena as the Education Minister and Johnston Fernando as the Minister of Highways.

13:13 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lankans continue protest, demand resignation of President Rajapaksa

Sri Lankans on Monday continued to protest against President Rajapaksa, demanding his resignation. They carried cards with slogans like "Go Home Gota" and "Rajapaksa Resign" and asserted that they are not "extremists". 

People shout slogans against Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and demand that Rajapaksa family politicians step down, during a protest at Independence Square in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 4, 2022 (Reuters)
(Reuters)
13:01 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lanka President announces new Foreign Minister

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Monday named GL Peiris as the Foreign Minister.

This came after all 26 Ministers of Sri Lankan Cabinet resigned on Sunday evening. 

12:55 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lanka President sacks brother, announces Ali Sabry as Finance Minister

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday removed his brother and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa from his post amidst the worst economic crisis that has plagued the island nation.

Hee has been replaced by Ali Sabry, who was until Sunday night the Minister of Justice. (PTI)

12:12 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lanka's leader of Opposition alliance appeals to PM Modi for help

In a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the Opposition alliance in Sri Lanka said, "Please try and help Sri Lanka to the maximum possible extent. This is our motherland, we need to save our motherland."

11:41 (IST)04 Apr 2022
President invites Opposition to join govt

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Monday invited all political parties represented in parliament to accept ministerial portfolios to help find a way out of the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, Reuters reported.

A statement by his office read, “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invited all political parties to come together to find solutions to the ongoing national crisis. Considering this a national need, the time has come to work together for the sake of all the citizens and future generations.”

11:28 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Sri Lanka's Colombo Stock Exchange halts trading after sharp fall

Sri Lanka's Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday said it has halted trading of shares for 30 minutes due to a sharp fall in the benchmark share price index.

"Please note that the Market has been halted for 30 minutes due to the S&P SL20 index dropping over 5% from the previous close," the bourse said on its website. "The halt will be lifted at 11.02 A.M." (Reuters)

11:28 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Governor of Sri Lanka's Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal resigns

Sri Lankan central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said on Monday that he submitted his resignation in the context of all cabinet ministers resigning.

11:10 (IST)04 Apr 2022
'Hope it helps establish stability': President's nephew Namal Rajapaksa on resigning as Sports Minister

Youth and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, nephew of Gotabaya and the son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, said on Twitter on Monday he had told the president's secretary about his resignation with immediate effect. He hoped it would help the president and prime minister's "decision to establish stability" for Sri Lankans and the government.

10:54 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Long queues for fuel continue in Sri Lanka

As political turmoil deepened in the crisis-hit country, the shortage of fuel continued to impact Sri Lankans on Monday. People waited in long queues at a fuel-filling station, which is being guarded by security personnel amid massive protests across the country.

10:29 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Curfew lifted, state of emergency continues

The 36-hour curfew, which was imposed amid anti-government protests across the country over its worst economic crisis, was lifted on Monday morning.

However, the country is still under the effect of a state of emergency, which was declared after an angry mob surrounded the private residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on March 31.

10:28 (IST)04 Apr 2022
Want 'wholesale change', not 'musical chairs' with politicians exchanging positions: Leader of Opposition

Sajith Premadasa, Leader of Opposition in Sri Lanka, stated the country is calling for a "wholesale change". 

"What we ask for is a pathbreaking wholesale change that brings about relief to the country, not relief to politicians...not a game of musical chairs where politicians exchange their positions," he was quoted as saying. 

Sajith Premadasa
10:07 (IST)04 Apr 2022
'Melodrama': Leader of Opposition on Cabinet Ministers resigning

With all 26 Ministers resigning from the Sri Lankan Cabinet on Sunday evening, Sajith Premadasa, Leader of Opposition in Sri Lanka called the move "melodrama". 

"It's a melodrama that is being enacted to dupe the people of our country. It's not a genuine effort towards bringing some sort of relief to the people of our country. It's an exercise in fooling the people," Premadasa was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. 

09:50 (IST)04 Apr 2022
In Photos | Security ramped in Sri Lanka amid curfew to curb protests

The government ramped up security in Colombo as scores of Sri Lankans and Opposition leaders defied curfew to protest the rising inflation and unemployment in the country.



AP Photos

A Sri Lankan man shouts anti government slogans during a protest outside Sri Lankan president's private residence on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (AP)

Protests demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa reportedly continued Monday morning after the 36-hour curfew was lifted. The country remains under a state of emergency, which was declared after an angry mob surrounded the private residence of the President on March 31. On Sunday, over 600 people were arrested in Sri Lanka's Western Province for violating the curfew and trying to stage an anti-government rally. The enraged public has been blaming the Rajapaksa family for the ongoing crisis, with the two brothers at the helm as Prime Minister and President.

Opposition lawmakers, led by their leader Sajith Premadasa, had set off on a march towards the iconic Independence Square in Colombo, defying the curfew which was imposed by the government on Saturday, ahead of the planned protest for Sunday. The protest was organised by social media activists against the ongoing economic crisis and hardships heaped on people due to shortages of essentials. A total of 664 people were arrested in the Western Province on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government on Sunday lifted the ban it had imposed on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after declaring a nationwide public emergency and effecting a 36-hour curfew. The services of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TokTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger were restored after 15 hours, according to an official. The services had been fully or partially blocked.

‘Can we eat money?’: Prices high, supplies low, despair in Lanka

Vani Susai, a 31-year-old school teacher working in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka’s eastern province, recalls the first signs of the economic crisis in the last week of January. “That Sunday morning, I ran out of gas. I called the agency to check for a cylinder and was told they could not deliver it for several days. I went in search for one, going shop to shop. I finally found a cylinder after three hours.”

Two months later, the cooking gas supply is down to once a week. “Everybody goes to this one place on Sunday and stands in a queue that starts forming at 4 am.

They give 300 tokens at one time, while the queue has over 1,000 people,” says Susai, adding that as a working woman and mother, she can’t spare the time to stand in a queue. Her husband works in the Gulf. “If I get a chance, I will leave.”

Last week, Tamil Nadu received more than a dozen people who had fled Lanka under similar economic duress. The country is facing one of its worst economic crises, battered by the Easter Sunday blasts of April 2019, two Covid waves and now the Russia-Ukraine war. The setbacks have hurt the tourism industry that is the bedrock of the Lankan economy. The island country that imports almost everything from outside has been struggling to manage supplies.

 

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