West indian people

Food crisis deepens in Sri Lanka, affecting 3.4 million poor

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BY ARUN KUMAR SHRIVASTAV

UN agencies and NGOs working in Sri Lanka have warned that the food crisis in the island nation of 22 million people is getting worse. In his month of June
2022 report, the UN said at least 1.7 million people needed immediate assistance. Earlier this week, he said the number had risen to 3.4 million people.
These organizations provide vital support to the most vulnerable people in Sri Lanka under a common banner – Humanitarian Needs and
Priorities (HNP), which works in Sri Lanka at the request of the local government which has requested UN-backed multi-sectoral support, particularly to combat
shortages of food and medicine. Governments and international donor agencies have helped these organizations provide cash, food, school meals and
medicines to more than one million of the most vulnerable people.
The PNH had raised 79 million dollars but given the increase in the number of those who need help, it needs an additional 70 million dollars. The food shortage
worsened due to poor harvests in the last two agricultural seasons. In its revised plans, the PNH aims to feed 2.1 million people, as a priority
pregnant women and school children. It also plans to cover 1.5 million farmers and fishers under its livelihood support programme.
Sri Lanka has been granted preliminary approval for a $2.9 billion bailout package by the IMF to be paid out over 4 years. But bailing out the IMF will depend on a
far-reaching economic reform that the multilateral financial institution wants the Sri Lankan government to implement. Sri Lanka has over 300 states
owned companies and the top 52 of them lost $2.4 billion in the first four months of the current year.
Among the state entities that would face harsh financial scrutiny and strangulation of funds is the national airline, Sri Lankan Airlines. It is among the
the most expensive companies in the long list of state-owned companies now facing reforms. Sri Lanka’s national carrier has nearly 6,000 employees and
it has suffered $4.50 in losses for every dollar earned in 2022, so far. Sri Lankan Airlines has not made a profit since 2008, when its CEO was sacked for failing to
loading passengers with reservations to accommodate some members of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family on a flight from London to Colombo.
Announcing the need for reforms within Sri Lankan Airlines, government spokesman Manusha Nanayakkara said recently: “Even those who have
never set foot on a Sri Lankan plane pay to subsidize the airline… We can’t go on like this. Last month, the government asked finance
ministry to seek outside investment in order to restructure the organization. But analysts say finding an investor for Sri Lankan airlines may be
difficult under the current circumstances.
In addition to loss-making state enterprises, the Sri Lankan economy has been affected by the two years of closure due to Covid-19. The Russian-Ukrainian War
has also had an impact on the island nation which is heavily dependent on imports. A key contributor to the Sri Lankan economy is its tourism sector. In his attempt to
consolidate its finances, Sri Lanka is turning to India to boost its tourism sector. India has been of great help to Sri Lanka throughout the current crisis and has
extended $4 billion in support from January through today. Indian tourists constitute 21% of its total tourist arrivals.
“Sri Lanka is fully open and reaching out to tourists. India is our priority market and we target three types of tourists: family, leisure,
and Ramayana. We are also working on special deals for Indian tourists and are in the process of linking up with low cost carriers,” Thisum said.
Jayasurya, chairman of the Sri Lankan Convention Bureau (SLCB), which leads Sri Lankan tourist tours to Indian cities. According to available
According to the data, Sri Lanka surpassed $1 billion in tourism receipts in 10 months this year. In October, 42,000 tourists visited the island nation, taking the total
tourist arrivals figure this year at 568,000.
Meanwhile, construction of the Port of Colombo’s $700 million West Container Terminal began on Wednesday. The Indian group Adani owns a
controlling 51% of the capital of this project, which is also the first Indian investment in the port sector of Sri Lanka. The first stage of this project will be completed by
the third quarter of 2023, and the full project will be completed by the end of 2025. In addition to Adani’s 51%, John Keells Holdings of Sri Lanka owns 34%
and the rest by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
(API Service)

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