India rushes food and medicine to bankrupt Sri Lanka
A critical shortage of foreign currency has prevented Sri Lanka from paying for enough imported food, fuel and medicine to meet demand since late last year, causing widespread hardship.
Its 22 million people have also been forced to endure prolonged daily power cuts and runaway inflation that have weighed on household budgets.
India extended $1.5 billion in lines of credit to enable Sri Lanka to continue meeting some of its food and energy needs, and Friday’s shipment followed a visit by Indian experts to aid talks.
“The two sides discussed at length the future course of India’s aid package to stabilize and revive the Sri Lankan economy,” Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said after the meeting.
A severe fuel shortage has brought Sri Lanka to a standstill this week, with parliament canceling two sitting days to help save fuel.
Last week the United Nations appealed for emergency food aid after a survey showed four in five Sri Lankans were skipping meals to cope with the crisis.
A US Treasury delegation is expected in the capital Colombo next week to assess the crisis, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe telling lawmakers on Wednesday that the national economy had reached the point of “complete collapse”.
Sri Lanka has already defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt and is in bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund, which could take months.