Opposition parliamentarians have urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to initiate a dialogue with them to better understand the current economic issues facing the nation and find solutions together.
“We are all in this together,” Dr. Harsha De Silva, an opposition member of parliament said addressing a media briefing yesterday.
“The Governor of the Central Bank reiterates his factually incorrect statements to a certain newspaper on 9th February that there is no dollar shortage in the country, however, many other newspapers report otherwise.”
In fact, he says one of the leading newspapers states that we are in need of US20mn dollars to clear 2,000 containers stuck at the port, while another claims that we are not able to import medicine as there is a shortage of dollars.
Meanwhile, another prominent newspaper states that the Central Bank is preparing to sell more of our gold reserves, as we do not have sufficient financial resources to keep the country functioning, he added.
“Who is the Central Bank Governor trying to fool?” he asked.
De Silva says we are at the brink of an economic collapse with insufficient dollars to import essential commodities such as medicine, milk powder, fuel, food etc According to the Central Bank data, at the end of November 2021, we had a mere $1.5 bn of reserves left.
“Thereafter, at the end of December 2021, the Central Bank claimed that they possessed US three billion dollars of reserves after manipulating the data with a currency swap from China for an amount of US 1.5 billion dollars,”
“However, at the end of January 2022, we possessed only US 2.3 billion dollars even with the currency swap with China, thus ending up with only US 700 million dollars of usable reserves.”
He further claims that we are in a precarious situation as the Central Bank needs to settle a debt payment of US 70 million dollars today, February 9th, and another Sri Lanka Development Bond payment on the 17th of February for US 160 million dollars. These two payments themselves come to a total of US 230 million dollars, thus depleting our reserves even further.
“Neither the Government nor the Central Bank has a plan to try and get us back on track and bring in dollars to not only pay off our debts but also money to pay for our essentials,” he concluded.