Sri Lanka on Tuesday (August 31) declared a state of emergency over food shortages as private banks ran out of foreign exchange to finance imports.
With the country suffering a hard-hitting economic crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he has ordered emergency regulations to counter the hoarding of sugar, rice and other essential foods.
Mr Rajapaksa has named a top army officer as “Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate the supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other consumer goods”.
The move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes, while long queues have formed outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, kerosene oil and cooking gas.
The government has increased penalties for food hoarding, but the shortages come as the country of 21 million battles a fierce Covid-19 wave that is claiming more than 200 lives a day.