Economic policy

Sri Lankan ministers sacked for criticizing economic policy

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president has fired two other cabinet ministers after publicly criticizing the government’s handling of the economy, which they say is causing serious hardship to the people.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sacked Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila and Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa, the president’s office announced on Thursday.

A total of three cabinet ministers were ousted for criticizing the government’s economic policies.

Both Gammapila and Weerawansa played key roles in bringing Rajapaksa to power and are now part of a group of about 30 ruling alliance lawmakers who are urging the government to change economic course.

The country is experiencing a severe shortage of foreign exchange due to a sharp drop in foreign tourists and exports due to the pandemic and heavy debts for infrastructure projects.

Lack of dollars to pay for imports has led to shortages of essentials such as milk powder, medicine and fuel. Dwindling fuel stocks have forced daily power cuts of 7.5 hours as generators cannot operate.

There are long queues at petrol stations and vehicles are stuck on the roads because their tanks have run dry. Fishermen demand fuel to run their boats and farmers are unable to operate harvesting machinery.

Gammanpila publicized foreign exchange shortages and criticized the government for not prioritizing medicine and fuel imports. Weerawansa said authorities were prioritizing projects such as highway construction while ignoring people’s immediate needs.

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