On Wednesday Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister of Sri Lanka, made a speech in parliament in which he spoke of the very serious economic crisis in which the country finds itself. It is a crisis that has caused worrying shortages of food, fuel, medicine and other basic necessities, and which has been made more complicated by Sri Lanka’s accumulated debts with its international creditors. In one of the most popular passages of his speech, Wickremesinghe said: “Our economy has completely collapsed.”
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Wickremesinghe did not give any indications on what the government intends to do to deal with the current crisis: his speech seemed more like a statement of the state of things. According to some commentators, moreover, Wickremesinghe wanted to suggest to the members of the opposition how out of his reach some solution to the problem, at least of the immediate one.
Wickremesinghe, in fact, was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after the resignation of the previous prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The appointment of Wickremesinghe, hitherto in the opposition, was also thought of as an attempt to revive the economy and put an end to the large and participatory protests that have been going on in Sri Lanka for weeks against the government, accused of being co-responsible for economic crisis, considered the worst since 1948, the year in which Sri Lanka gained independence from the United Kingdom.
The current situation is due, among other things, to years of corruption, bad choices and investments, populist and bankruptcy policies. For this reason, the protesters called for both the resignation of the prime minister and that of the president, both belonging to a family of seven brothers who have all had important political or administrative roles in Sri Lanka, and who have been accused on several occasions of corruption and nepotism. .
Wickremesinghe’s words, however, are probably also intended as a request for help addressed to any foreign financiers: according to analyst Anit Mukherjee of the Center for Global Development in Washington, heard by Associated Press, Wickremesinghe wanted to suggest to foreign governments that the collapse of the Sri Lankan economy – a country that is on one of the busiest shipping routes in the world – is not even for them.