MEETING BASIC NEEDS
“The immediate focus of the government is to try to reduce some of the scarcity of basic needs and (bringing down) inflation,” said Murtaza Jafferjee, economist and chairman of Colombo-based think tank Advocata Institute.
Data from the Department of Census and Statistics showed food inflation alone went up from 80.1 per cent in June to 90.9 per cent in July. Transport inflation, meanwhile, increased from 128 per cent to 143.6 per cent during the same period.
“This is destroying the lives of most people,” Mr Jafferjee said.
According to the president, the government has initiated the process of easing people’s suffering, from minimising power cuts to improving the supply of gas.
“There is no shortage of gas and soon, everyone would be able to obtain it without queuing. Safety measures have been taken to avoid food shortages. Bringing essential drugs and medical equipment to the hospitals have been initiated,” he told parliamentarians.
Commenting on the fuel shortage, Mr Wickremesinghe said it is timely to create a system where the commodity is imported using Sri Lanka’s export income and foreign remittances. However, he added that the supply “has to be curtailed”.
“These hardships would need to be borne until the end of this year,” the president said.
Fuel is currently distributed through a rationing system in Sri Lanka. The public is required to register their vehicles with the government to obtain a National Fuel Pass in the form of a specific QR code.
Each code comes with a weekly quota for fuel and the quantity differs according to the vehicle types.
Months of fuel shortage have disrupted various aspects of life in Sri Lanka and as the crisis unfolds, its people have become increasingly overwhelmed.
However, analysts believe the situation is slowly improving, thanks to dollar liquidity in the economy.
“In the month of July, it is expected that exports will exceed imports. This is a country that imports significantly more than it exports. But because of the demand compression due to the unaffordability and the lack of supply, (the) exports may exceed imports, significantly improving dollar liquidity in the banking system,” Mr Jafferjee told CNA.
According to the president, measures are being taken by the government to inject more dollars into the ailing economy through foreign remittances and tourism.
Source: Channel News Asia