Sri Lanka to turn off street lights in deepening economic crisis

Sri Lanka will turn off street lights in the deepening economic crisis.

Sri Lanka will turn off street lights in the deepening economic crisis.

  • Sri Lanka has implemented blackouts for up to 13 hours a day to save electricity.
  • Retail inflation in the country has hit 18.7% while the food inflation is at 30.2%.
  • The country is expecting a diesel shipment from India which will be able to reduce load shedding.

Sri Lanka is turning off street lights to save electricity, a minister said on Thursday, as its worst economic crisis in decades brought more power cuts and halted trading on its main stock market.

The island of 22 million people is struggling with rolling blackouts for up to 13 hours a day because the government does not have enough foreign exchange for fuel imports.

“We have already instructed officials to shut off street lights around the country to help conserve power,” Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters.

The power cuts add to the pain of Sri Lankans already dealing with shortages of essentials and rocketing prices.

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Retail inflation hit 18.7% in March over the same period a year ago, the statistics department said on Thursday. Food inflation reached 30.2% in March, partly driven by a currency devaluation and last year’s ban on chemical fertilisers that was later reversed.

“This is the worst level of inflation Sri Lanka has experienced in over a decade,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Research.

A diesel shipment under a $500 million credit line from India was expected on Saturday, Wanniarachchi said, though she warned that would not fix the issue.

“Once that arrives we will be able to reduce load shedding hours but until we receive rains, probably some time in May, power cuts will have to continue,” the minister said.

“There’s nothing else we can do.”

Water levels at reservoirs feeding hydro-electric projects had fallen to record lows, while demand had hit record highs during the hot, dry season, she said.

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