President Gotabaya Rajapaksa named a new Cabinet of 17 ministers on Monday, ANI said, citing NewsWire, amid the continued economic crisis that has led to political uncertainty in Sri Lanka. The new Cabinet Ministers were sworn in before the President in the President’s House, according to the report. President Rajapaksa invited independent ministers of parliament (MPs) to a meeting last week. To discuss the country’s economic crisis. Which has been described as the worst since the country’s independence in 1948. The conference was convened after enraged Sri Lankans took to the streets to demand President Rajapaksa’s resignation.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Sri Lanka’s main opposition party, has threatened to launch a no-confidence vote against President Rajapaksa’s government if he does not take serious steps to end the country’s political and economic instability. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has expressed its support for the island nation’s ongoing Galle Face protest, which is calling for President Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation. Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando, Director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications and Church spokesperson. Stated his support for the continuing protests during a news conference, according to The Island.
Sri Lankan President appoints 17 ministers in Cabinet to firefight economic crisis
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) April 18, 2022
Sri Lanka declares default on all of its international obligations
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry announced on April 12 that the government will default on its $51 billion external debt, pending a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The ministry also indicated in a news statement that the government will stop normal debt servicing of all “Affected Debt” for the time being, awaiting an orderly and consensual restructuring of such liabilities in accordance with an IMF-backed economic adjustment plan. Sri Lanka has maintained an excellent debt service record since its independence in 1948, according to the Finance Ministry. However, recent events, such as the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the fallout from Ukraine’s war, have worsened the country’s budgetary condition to the point. Where routine service of foreign public debt obligations is no longer possible.
The crisis in Sri Lanka
It’s worth noting that the Sri Lankan government is struggling to provide basic needs for its 22 million residents in the midst of an unparalleled economic crisis brought on by financial mismanagement and ill-timed tax cuts. The problem was compounded as cabinet ministers resigned with immediate effect on April 3. The island nation is also dealing with a current account deficit. Which has resulted in food, fuel, power, and gas shortages, prompting it to seek economic assistance from friendly countries.