The country no longer has any foreign currency to pay for oil imports, said the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a speech to the population on Monday. “We only have supplies for one day.”
The head of government prepared the population for further hardships in the coming months. Sri Lanka, with its 22 million inhabitants, is in the middle of the worst economic crisis since independence from Great Britain in 1948. A major trigger of the crisis was the slump in international tourism as a result of the corona pandemic. The previous government was also accused of mismanagement.
For weeks, people took to the streets against former Prime Minister Mahnda Rajapaksa. The protests escalated a week ago; at least nine people were killed and more than 225 others injured. Dozens of houses were set on fire. Rajapaksa resigned, Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Thursday.
The new Prime Minister announced an “economic war cabinet”. On Sunday he spoke to representatives of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank about aid for his country.