Why is there a food emergency in Sri Lanka?

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Srilanka Faces food scarcity in Covid-19.

Sri Lanka has experienced long queues to buy essential items amid tight lockdown measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

Shelves at government-run supermarkets have been running low – some even empty – with very little stock remaining of imported goods like milk powder, cereal and rice.

The government denies there are shortages and blames the media for stoking fears.

It follows the government declaring a state of emergency and Sri Lanka’s Central Bank chief stepping down amid a foreign exchange crisis.

What has the government done?

On 30 August, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced strict controls on the supply of essential goods.

The government said this was needed to prevent traders hoarding food items and control inflation.

Sri Lanka is grappling with a depreciating currency, inflation and a crippling foreign debt burden.

The economic slowdown is of particular concern as until recently, Sri Lanka had one of the strongest economies in South Asia.

In 2019, it was upgraded to an upper middle-income country by the World Bank.

But at the same time, the country’s debt burden has also been growing – from 39% of Gross National Income (GNI) in 2010 to 69% in 2019, according to the World Bank

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