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Global media misled by Opposition’s food shortage fake news: Cabraal

  • Cabraal says action to prevent hoarding and unfair pricing misconstrued

By Shahaen Vishak

Dismissing local and international media reports that Sri Lanka is facing a food shortage as being fake news, Money, Capital Market, and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal alleged that the political Opposition was behind the dissemination of such false reports, which have misled foreign media as well.

Speaking to The Morning, Cabraal explained that essential food items were being unlawfully hoarded by private parties, and that the Sri Lankan authorities’ response to such violations has been misconstrued to suggest a food shortage in the country.

“With the advent of social media, there has been a plethora of fake news being circulated all over the world. Sri Lanka is one country that has suffered immensely from exaggerated stories in various websites, and the recent story that Sri Lanka is facing a serious food shortage is one such instance. It is likely that these types of fake stories are the creation of various parties with vested interests, including the Opposition, which is attempting to discredit the Government even at the expense of the country’s good name. At the same time, it is unfortunate that a few international news agencies also seem to have been misled by these stories, resulting in an erroneous impression of the Sri Lankan situation being conveyed to the world.”

Cabraal yesterday (2) posted on his Twitter account images of stories published by Reuters, BBC, Al Jazeera, and various other international media outlets, labelling them all fake, while stating: “Absolutely no shortage of food in Sri Lanka. Organised dissemination of fake news, locally and internationally, of a food shortage, is highly mischievous. The artificial shortage of sugar created by unscrupulous hoarders has already been dealt with under the law.”

He had also shared an official statement issued by the Government Information Department Director General Mohan Samaranayake, which noted that such false reports are circulating, and denied the veracity of said reports while pointing out that the Government has implemented emergency regulations under the Public Security Ordinance as amended in order to prevent hoarding and unfair pricing being practised by traders in the market.

When contacted, economist and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Opposition MP Dr. Harsha de Silva was not available for immediate comment regarding the allegation levelled against the Parliamentary Opposition by Cabraal.

However, SJB MP Patali Champika Ranawaka had issued a statement recently in which he criticised the Government’s management of foreign reserves, and called for the more scientific management of the economy and in taking Covid-19 pandemic-related decisions. In his statement, he had claimed: “There are no foreign reserves to import coal, milk powder, medicines, and other essential goods. It is imminent that an era of hunger, poverty, and unemployment will dawn upon us. The common man will be suffering, resorting to firewood to cook and bullock carts to commute. The whole country will be reset at an economic equilibrium of half a century ago.”