Sri Lanka has always been a patriotic country, and this reaches its biggest annual spike on the 4th of February, Sri Lanka’s official Independence Day.
The exact date in 1948 saw Sri Lanka gain independence from the British rule, becoming its own nation. This year saw a parade around Independence square, a commemoration we couldn’t partake in these past years due to the pandemic situation. While within constraints, the festivities were carried about, and the Sri Lankan people celebrate its history and independence another year.
The real question this year is; do we celebrate Independence despite all the struggles our country is facing financially and economically? Or do we celebrate it while we still can.
It Is no breaking news that Sri Lanka is still struggling in the aftermath of the pandemic. Of course, the healthcare side of things picking up with manageable number of cases (fingers crossed) and as well a vaccine drive that wasn’t too dramatic as Sri Lankan things are wont to become.
Speaking of dramatic, however, the CEB comes to mind. Firstly, they were struggling with disparities among the management and the workers, and now power stations are breaking down left right and centre. We are down by 484 megawatts of power, and there are short power-cuts nationwide to keep the supply balanced.
Moreover, the PUCSL and CEB are having their own issues, where the CEB is going ahead with power-cuts that have not been approved by the PUCSL. Amongst all this, the water levels in reservoirs have been down, which isn’t helping our case.
The primary issue leads us to our next point. If there was crude oil in the nation, the country wouldn’t have to resort to purchasing electricity from other nations. But now it’s a possibility on the horizon, because we do not have crude oil.
Simply digressing for a moment to say that we as a nation are very good at prioritizing; in a time where we are struggling to procure oil, we also held an air show for Independence Day celebrations, accompanied by a week of practicing over the skies of Colombo. Call it tradition, but I don’t think the absence of high-powered jets guzzling up the fuel we have would have been lamented. This unavailability of fuel in Sri Lanka is sending our socially backward people into the past its mentality seems to be stuck in; outdoor stoves are back in trend, and even major retailers and supermarkets have been seen selling firewood.
Electric stoves would have been an option, but we all know that that isn’t happening. While this lack in fuel means that households are being affected, in terms of having no gas to cook with, being concerned for the quality of the gas they can get their hands on, and expenditure increasing on travel etc. it also affects the bigger picture.
Our country is now seen purchasing crude oil from Cyprus and India. However, we are now climbing down Sri Lanka’s economic and financial situation to the roots. The core factor that is fuelling this dilemma (fuelling, irony; get it?) is that we don’t have foreign reserves.
The CBSL is acting like a preteen caught stealing from his mother’s purse, brazenly denying his crime while clutching the cash in his fist. According to the data released by the Central Bank itself, we only have $2.3bn in our foreign reserves – this is paired with $12.55bn worth of sovereign debt, but according to CBSL, we will be honouring these debts and paying them back, despite most of these debts maturing in July. While this may seem like complaining, especially coming from a younger perspective, it is important that, as citizens, we understand the situation to a viable depth.
The government is taking reformed steps towards solving the issues, such as restructuring its debt payment schemes, and are on the verge of consulting the IMF and reaching a feasible solution. We can only hope that these are executed efficiently, keeping the nations sovereignty at the forefront of our goals.