The economic crisis being faced by Sri Lanka is only worsening with each passing day, the country has now cancelled school exams for millions of students as it has run out of printing paper and ink.
Sri Lanka is in the throes of its worst financial crisis since its independence in 1948, and has been unable to import ink and paper to conduct the exams.
“School principals cannot hold the tests as printers are unable to secure foreign exchange to import necessary paper and ink,” per the Department of Education of Sri Lanka’s Western Province.
Not just ink and paper, but Sri Lanka is running low on food, fuel, and pharmaceutical as well, according to a report in The Independent. The government has already started rationing milk powder, sugar, lentils, and rice.
The country has had to deploy troops after protests erupted at several petrol stations due to a shortage of fuel. Two men had even collapsed and died while standing in separate queues to secure fuel.
“A decision was made last night to call out soldiers to reinforce the police. This is to discourage any unrest,” said an official.
The island nation is currently facing a foreign exchange and debt crisis and has been unable to import essential items including fuel, food, and medicines. The cash-strapped country secured a $1bn credit line from India last week to buy essential commodities like food and medicine.
It has also reached out to China asking for a new loan and buyer’s credit from China for $2.5 billion. “This is in addition to the $2.8–billion assistance that China has extended to Sri Lanka since the outbreak of the pandemic,” the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong said in a press briefing.
The Sri Lankan government has also turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek a bailout to solve the crisis. It needs to service $6.9 billion of debt this year and its foreign exchange reserves stand at a mere $2.3 billion.
“We will discuss with the authorities how best we can assist Sri Lanka going forward,” said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice.
Last year, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had declared an economic emergency after a major fall in its currency led to an increase in food prices.