When family takes over government – ​​The Colgate Maroon-News

On April 12, the government of Sri Lanka announced via a press release declaring that it would suspend repayment of all its external debt, while trying to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to establish an appropriate loan restructuring program, which drove the country into bankruptcy. This came after weeks of economic hardship, along with major shortages of almost all essential goods and services and rampant inflation.

While the sources of such an economic crisis are numerous, a few factors can be identified as particularly influential. Sri Lanka so far lacks the funds to repay $7 billion in external debt due this year alone out of a total of $25 billion, according to NPR. For decades, Sri Lanka has borrowed funds from foreign countries to fund major infrastructure projects. However, after years of lavish government spending, the COVID-19 crisis has forced the small island off the coast of southern India to shut down its profitable tourism industry, also hampering the country’s ability to repay its foreign debt. What started out quietly quickly deteriorated into Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since the country gained independence in 1948. as Joe Wallen pointed out, the Telegraph’s global health correspondent. This has since sparked widespread protests demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Lines for cooking gas, fuel and food are becoming the norm in Sri Lanka and people are growing increasingly frustrated, waiting in the country’s scorching heat and constant nighttime power cuts, also caused by food shortages. fuel. Sri Lankans, especially the young and middle class, are now filling the streets of the capital, Colombo, in an attempt to make their voices heard. While the protests have been mostly peaceful, Rajapaksa’s government is notorious for its repressive behavior against the opposition. Next to a European Parliament resolution confirming such behavior, there are growing fears that the country’s military may begin to intervene to quell the protests.

In fact, Rajapaksa’s government is not just known for its aggressive attitude towards the opposition, but also for being his family’s playground for more than a decade. Few countries can claim to have such an intensely nepotistic government. For years, the Rajapaksa family has been strengthening its grip on the administration of the country. To date, the Rajapaksa family, with their ministerial and government appointments, controls more than 75% of the country’s total budget, according to WION News. As of 2019, the year of his election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed his own brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; his nephew, Namal Rajapaksa, as minister of youth and sports; and yet another nephew, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, son of MP Chamal Rajapaksa, as State Minister for Paddy and Grains, Organic Foods, Vegetables, Fruits, Chilli, Onions and Potatoes, seed production and high-tech agriculture. Even the Ministry of Finance, until April 4, could not escape the Rajapaksa family since Basil Rajapaksa was Minister of Finance. The list of Rajapaksas in government, of course, does not end there.

The current economic crisis has made Sri Lankans more aware of their government’s mismanagement of the country, causing them to become less and less patient with the Rajapaksa family and their failure to provide even the most essential services to their citizens. Shathurshan Jayantharaj, leader of a fleet of delivery trucks, said The New York Times that the Rajapaksa family “don’t know what they are doing, and they are dragging us all down with them”. In an attempt to divert attention from himself, instead of taking full or partial responsibility for his government’s mismanagement of the economy, President Rajapaksa accused “reasons beyond our control” for the current crisis. His words had the opposite result and only intensified the growing opposition to his family’s regime. Surav Harris, a student interviewed by Insider News, said: “We want accountability. It’s not just the resignation we want. … We want these leaders to take responsibility for their actions. As demands for structural and economic reform converge with demands for regime change, and as the current crisis in Sri Lanka successfully unites people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds around a common cause, President Rajapaksa becomes increasingly isolated and seemingly hopeless. In a address to the nation, aired April 12, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa praised himself and his government for building “modern highways, roads and infrastructure” and added that the blame for the current crisis should only lie associated only with the COVID-19 pandemic rather than its government policies and centralization. In an ineffectual and predictable manner, Prime Minister Rajapaksa attacked his critics and accused them of prioritizing party affiliation over government unity.

As the protests continue, a reshuffling of ministerial appointments is taking place in an attempt to decentralize the Rajapaksa family’s control over the country and install more capable figures. Asked by Bloomberg Markets: Asia On the next steps Sri Lanka should take to preserve the economy, incumbent Finance Minister Ali Sabry, who took over from Basil Rajapaksa in April 2022, said: “We need immediate emergency funding to get Sri Lanka back on track,” and added how This step is important before working on reforming the economy and restructuring the country’s debt. But as important as this step is, “a stable government matters” in the IMF’s decision whether or not to support Sri Lanka, as confirmed by Steve Cochrane, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at Moody’s, for The Financial Times. What the future holds for Sri Lanka and the claims of its people is uncertain. What is certain is that the longer this political and economic crisis lasts, the more impact it will have on the State’s ability to provide essential services to its population and on its legitimacy to request assistance from the IMF.

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