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SJB sounds alarm as foreign reserves drop to lowest ever figure of $ 1.5 b 

Noting that the Opposition recently alleged in Parliament that foreign reserves have dropped to their lowest-ever levels of $ 1.5 billion, including gold reserves of $ 300 million, which amounts to less than one month’s imports, and that the Government did not refute this claim, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Eran Wickramaratne warned that as a result, essential food items and fuel shortages would follow, and the country could face power cuts in the future. 

The MP, pointing out that the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery was recently closed for the first time in its history, also stated that manufacturers and businesses would be able to prepare to face the consequences if the Government informed the country well in advance of such a situation. 

“When this Government came to power, the foreign reserves, which were more than $ 7 billion, have now reduced to $ 1.5 billion, as this Government is more concerned with giving relief to its cronies than governing the country,” charged Wickramaratne.

He added that despite reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided emergency assistance to 80 countries, including Asian countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, and Myanmar, the Government has not yet responded to a question raised in Parliament a year ago whether it had received a rapid financing instrument from the IMF. Sri Lanka did not receive this assistance because the IMF had speculated that the nation would not be able to repay its loans due to the depletion of foreign reserves, which needs a comprehensive reform process. 

“Even poorer countries than us in Asia received Covid-19 emergency aid from the IMF, but Sri Lanka was not included in the recipient lists due to the IMF’s assessment that Sri Lanka needs major economic reforms in the context of the collapse of its foreign reserves,” he stated. 

He further claimed: “The present Government, which had criticised and repealed the fuel price formula implemented by the Yahapalana Government as a timely solution to the problems faced by the country, now insists that a fuel formula is good for the country. This proves that they do not have a proper understanding of economic management or governance.” 

According to the Standing Orders of Parliament, when a question is raised, it can be adjourned only twice. However, Wickramaratne claimed that the Government was still postponing an answer to his question under the pretext of collecting data, and urged that it was the responsibility of the Government to tell the people the truth about the dollar shortage and its consequences in importing essential goods to the country, so they could be prepared in advance.