The current crisis in Sri Lanka began in 2019 after the formation of the government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka’s treasury saw more outflows than inflows as they announced tax cuts as part of an election promise.
Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken over as Prime Minister amid the ongoing political turmoil in Sri Lanka. He has been administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Ranil Wickremesinghe has been the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka four times before. But, this time his appointment is being considered very important. Wickremesinghe has been the Sarvosarva of the United National Party since 1994. Considered a veteran politician, Wickremesinghe has been the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka four times. However, in the year 2019, he had to leave the post of Prime Minister due to internal strife and other reasons. Wickremesinghe is considered close to the Rajapaksa family.
Rajapaksa family of Sri Lanka
The story of the banyan tree of Sri Lankan politics i.e. Rajapaksa family is also very interesting. The President of Sri Lanka is Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He has three other brothers. The eldest among them is Chamal Rajapakse who was the Agriculture Minister in the old government. He is younger than Mahindra Rajapaksa who was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Then comes Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s number. Basil Rajapaksa’s number comes at number four and he was handling the work of Finance Minister in the government of the country. Apart from this, Naval Rajapaksa, son of Mahindra Rajapaksa, was also the Sports Minister in the government. Shashidra Rajapakse, the son of Agriculture Minister Chamal Rajapakse, is also a junior minister in the government. According to this, six members of the Rajapaksa family were directly present in the government, including a President. These have become those people who have a direct blood relation. There were many such ministers in the government who had no blood relation with the Rajapaksa family, but there is definitely some distant relation. However, in the current situation, everyone has resigned from their posts and Ranil Wickremesinghe has been made the new Prime Minister.
Also read: Experienced Wickremesinghe will be able to do anything only when the entire government and Sri Lankan people support him
Mahinda Rajapaksa is considered the leader of the majority Sinhalese population of the country. He is seen as a war hero for ending nearly three decades of civil war in Sri Lanka. He was the one who crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 during his first term as President. Although he was also accused of committing genocide, Mahinda, who was in power, denied this and continued the military campaign in northern Sri Lanka. Along with this, there were many allegations of corruption on Mahindra Rajapaksa. The Air Force had alleged that Mahindra Rajapaksa and his family used Rs 22.78 lakh from the public for their personal travel during the presidential election.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa joined the Sri Lankan Army as an officer cadet in 1971. In 1991 he was appointed Deputy Commandant of the Sir John Kotelwala Defense Academy and remained in this position until his retirement from the Army in 1992. He returned home in 2005 to help his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidential election campaign and took dual Sri Lankan citizenship. In 2015, Interpol revealed that there was a $10 million scam in military purchases when Gotabaya was Rajapaksa’s defense secretary.
Basil Rajapaksa has been the finance minister in his brother’s government. He is also known as Mr 10 percent because of his alleged commission in government contracts. Basil Rajapakse was considered the intellectual pillar of the Mahinda Rajapakse administration from 2010 to 2015. Basil holds dual citizenship of the US and Sri Lanka.
Also read: Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe takes office, opposition announces not to cooperate
Sri Lanka crisis
The current crisis in Sri Lanka began in 2019 after the formation of the government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka’s treasury saw more outflows than inflows as they announced tax cuts as part of an election promise. Now the condition is that citizens are paying skyrocketing prices for essential commodities like milk, pulses, roti and fuel. Till a few days ago, a liter of coconut oil was available for Rs 350. Now its price has gone up to Rs 900 per liter. The island nation is now in a dire situation with rising debt, an empty treasury, unprecedented inflation and violent protests.
Sri Lanka’s mistakes
After the government was formed in November 2019, President Rajapaksa reduced taxes from 15 per cent to eight per cent. Due to this, the country suffered a loss of 60 thousand crore rupees in annual revenue. Another mistake was to make promises without making provisions for them. Sri Lanka is a country dependent on tourism and imports. When tourism came to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic and incomes fell sharply in all sectors, unemployment soared. The treasury became empty. It became difficult for Sri Lanka to import goods. The third big mistake was keeping a close watch on its mounting debt. Foreign debt on Sri Lanka has increased by 175 percent in two years.
Sri Lanka’s political crisis
November 2019: As soon as he won the election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made a huge tax cut.
2020: Credit rating agencies downgraded Sri Lanka’s rating due to tax cuts.
2020: Tourism came to a standstill due to Kovid, income started declining and foreign exchange reserves started being used up.
April 2021 : The government banned all chemical fertilizers, which badly affected the agriculture sector.
February 2022: Sri Lanka was left with only $2.31 billion, while $4 billion was to be repaid. The government stopped imports. Inflation reached its peak, there was power cut for several hours, there was a shortage of fuel. Foreign debt on Sri Lanka increased to $51 billion.
March 31, 2022 : Protesters threw bricks at the President’s private residence, set fire to it.
April 1: The President declared a state of emergency in the country.
9 April: Thousands marched towards the President’s office demanding his resignation.
9 May: Mahinda Rajapaksa submits his resignation to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
9 May: Violence broke out across the country, eight people were killed, a nationwide curfew was imposed.
12 May: Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was once again declared the Prime Minister of the country.