Sri Lankan locals are desperately looking for someone to criticize for their current situation, and they have narrowed it down to Beijing and its debt diplomacy. The situation has deteriorated to the point that Sri Lanka is turning off street lights as the energy crisis worsens.

Sri Lanka Turns Off Street Lights As Energy Crisis Worsens

Sri Lanka is in the midst of an economic crisis that is wreaking havoc on the country’s economy, as a devastating energy crisis threatens to turn into food and other vital goods shortages.

Sri Lanka is starting to turn off its street lights to conserve power due to an energy crisis (and China’s refusal to permit the nation to restructure its debts) as its worst economic crisis in decades bites, forcing – among other cuts – the temporary shutdown of the local stock market as the crisis’ influence is felt (the Colombo Stock Exchange reduced daily trading to two hours from the usual four-and-a-half because of the power cuts for the rest of this week at the request of brokers).

Sri Lanka Turns Off Street Lights As Energy Crisis Worsens 1

Since the government is incapable to fulfill payments for fuel imports due to a lack of foreign exchange, the island country of 22 million people is experiencing continuous power outages lasting up to 13 hours per day.

According to Reuters, a diesel supply arranged for with a $500 million credit line from neighboring India is anticipated to come on Saturday, but the situation is not anticipated to change any time soon, as power restrictions will need to be maintained, per the country’s power minister.

“We have already instructed officials to shut off street lights around the country to help conserve power,” Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters.

“Once that arrives we will be able to reduce load shedding hours but until we receive rains, probably some time in May, power cuts will have to continue,” Wanniarachchi told reporters, referring to the rolling power cuts.

“There’s nothing else we can do.”

Another cause of the power outage (and a warning for all countries attempting to increase ‘green’ power sources): During the hot, dry season, water levels in reservoirs supplying hydro-electric plants had dropped to historic lows, but demand had also reached unprecedented heights, she stated.

According to Reuters, Sri Lanka’s problem is the outcome of a slew of events that have depleted the country’s foreign currency reserves.

The crisis is a result of badly timed tax cuts and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic coupled with historically weak government finances, leading to foreign exchange reserves dropping by 70% in the last two years.

Sri Lanka was left with reserves of $2.31 billion as of February, forcing the government to seek help from the International Monetary Fund and other countries, including India and China.

And unless things improve quickly, the little country’s energy problem might turn into a food shortage. Because, according to the AFP, the country’s fisherman have been frustrated on shore due to a lack of gasoline, being unable haul in the day’s catch. Families all throughout the country are feeling the consequences.

“If we queue up by five in the morning, then we will get fuel by three in the afternoon, on good days,” Arulanandan, a seasoned member of Negombo’s close-knit fishing community, tells AFP.

“But for some, even that is not possible, because by the time they get to the end of the queue, the kerosene is gone.”

Locals are looking for someone to criticize, and they have narrowed it down to Beijing and its ‘debt diplomacy,’ which appears to have taken Colombo off guard.

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