Sri Lanka has declared an economic emergency following a sharp drop in the value of its currency, which has resulted in a rise in food costs.
Authorities said they’ll seize control of key food supplies, including as rice and sugar, and set prices in an effort to rein in soaring inflation.
This year, the Sri Lankan rupee has lost 7.5 percent versus the US dollar.
The emergency measures, which cover a wide range of issues, went into force on Tuesday.
The government has chosen a retired army general as commissioner of vital services, with the authority to confiscate goods held by dealers and retailers.
The president of the island country, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, announced in a statement that “authorized officials would be allowed to take actions to offer critical food products at a concessionary cost to the people by acquiring stockpiles of vital food items.”
“To avoid market anomalies, these commodities will be given at government guaranteed rates or based on the customs value on imported goods,” the statement continued.
Following a spike in the price of essential items such as sugar, onions, and potatoes, the statement was made.
Long lines have formed outside stores owing to shortages of other items such as milk powder, kerosene, and cooking gas.
The increase in the foreign currency rate, according to the country’s Department of Census and Statistics, was one of the causes for increased costs of numerous basic products during the previous year.
In August, month-on-month inflation increased to 6%, owing primarily to rising food costs, according to the department.
The country, which is a net importer of food and other goods, is experiencing an increase in coronavirus infections and deaths, which has harmed tourism, which is one of the country’s primary sources of foreign money.
Sri Lanka’s GDP fell by a record 3.6 percent last year, owing in part to a drop in visitor numbers.
The government placed an import restriction on automobiles and other commodities in March of last year in an attempt to stop the outflow of foreign currency.
Sri Lanka became the first nation in the region to hike interest rates earlier this month, in a bid to support its currency and alleviate the inflationary pressures caused by high import costs.
Due to an increase of Covid-19 instances, Sri Lanka is presently under a 16-day curfew till Monday.