Sri Lanka Nixes Annual Exams Amid Spiraling Financial Crisis

It's a symptom of a serious economic malady in the small island nation
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2022 6:38 PM CDT
Sri Lanka Nixes Annual Exams Amid Spiraling Financial Crisis
Sri Lankans queue up to buy diesel at a fuel station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Sri Lanka is going through hours of daily power cuts since it can’t operate turbines because of a fuel shortage and the government has only a little foreign currency to pay for oil imports.   (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

In what may come as a relief to some children, Sri Lanka has cancelled annual exams due to an acute shortage of printing paper. Although paper prices are on the rise worldwide, that’s not the real problem. According to the Guardian, the country faces "a debilitating economic crisis brought on by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves to finance essential imports." Besides paper, the country faces severe food, fuel, and medicine shortages. With supplies dwindling, the Sri Lankan government has instituted emergency measures, including rolling blackouts and rationing of fuel and staple goods.

In an interview on CNBC, central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said his country would need to "take certain key steps in order to deal with this situation, [and] some may be not very palatable, as far as the general population is concerned." But he expressed optimism that the country would pull through the crisis. With hours-long lines at gas stations, the government sent soldiers to gas stations to help distribute fuel. Reuters reports that, according to officials, "the decision to deploy troops near petrol pumps and kerosene supply points came after three elderly people dropped dead during their wait in long queues."

The island nation’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which has of course been devasted by the pandemic. As a result, per ABC News, "Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves are dwindling at a time when it faces huge debt obligations." The country must make $7 billion in payments this year to service its debt, most of which is owed to China. Sri Lanka recently asked Beijing for a debt restructuring package worth $2.5 billion. China is considering the deal but reportedly remains "noncommittal." (Read more Sri Lanka stories.)

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