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Prathamesh Basagare, Pune

Sri Lanka has been dealing with increasing economic difficulties since the 2020 pandemic. The recent announcement that the country’s forex reserves have dwindled down to USD 500 million, the lowest level in more than a decade, has alarmed citizens and international partners alike.

The drop in foreign exchange reserves has been attributed to a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the country’s tourism industry, and rising import bills as a result of increased spending on infrastructure development projects.

The Mar. 9 local elections have been postponed due to a lack of funds, despite China’s refusal to join the IMF and Paris Club in debt restructuring for the island nation. The new dates for the election are expected to be announced on Mar. 03.

To address these issues, the Sri Lankan government has sought assistance from international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF approved a USD 1.5 billion loan in 2020 to assist the country in dealing with the economic fallout since the pandemic.

People in Sri Lanka protest over price hikes in the country. Image credits: Deccan Herald

The election postponement has been met with criticism from some quarters, with opposition parties accusing the government of postponing the democratic process for financial gain. The government, on the other hand, has defended its decision, claiming that it is necessary to prioritise essential services and manage the country’s finances responsibly.

The economic and political situations in both Sri Lanka and Pakistan are strikingly similar, with established political parties facing massive anti-incumbency campaigns and leaders embroiled in corruption cases and misgovernance in the past. While a general election in Sri Lanka, if and when it occurs, will result in the revival of left-wing parties, the situation in Pakistan is far worse, with no viable political alternative to the current lot, including once-rising star and now discredited Imran Khan Niazi. Politicians in Sri Lanka, like those in Pakistan, are waiting and watching the unfolding political crisis because no one wants to get involved in the present situation.