ECONOMNYNEXT – A recent travel advisory issued by Canada to its nationals travelling to and living in Sri Lanka warning them of a looming economic crisis contains erroneous, outdated information and flawed references, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said Wednesday (19).
Last Friday (14), the Canadian government warned its citizens visiting and living in Sri Lanka of shortages in food, medicines and fuel triggered by a looming economic crisis and a possible deterioration of the security environment owing to a lack of resources.
Canada also warned of possible poor delivery of public services, including healthcare, due to the economic crisis.
“The attention of the Foreign Ministry has been drawn to the Canadian travel advisory on Sri Lanka…. that includes erroneous and outdated information and does not reflect the actual situation in Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka’s external affairs ministry responded in a statement on Wednesday.
“There are flawed references to the economic and security situation in [the] country as well as inaccurate information with regard to the safety and security of female travellers and harassment of foreigners.”
“As such, the Ministry has taken steps to apprise the Canadian authorities of ground realities”, the ministry said.
Sri Lanka has successfully overcome the immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the island nation has received several international accolades in the tourism industry including CNN’s “Where to Travel in 2022”; the Global Wellness Institute; Conde Nast Traveler 2021 Reader’s Choice Awards as well as other endorsements received previously in 2019 by Lonely Planet and the National Geographic Travel, the ministry said in its statement.
“The government of Sri Lanka looks forward to more tourists visiting Sri Lanka from Canada and elsewhere with the gradual normalization of travel globally,” it said.
High priority is given to ensuring that all essential items continue to be available to the public at all times and there are sufficient stocks of food items. It also said there “is no arbitrary arrest and detention of persons by the police or security forces”.
It also said specific attention is being paid to the safety and security of women tourists with measures taken to strengthen the presence of police, including tourism police, island-wide in all regions.
“Sri Lanka is an island nation with friendly people with a high level of education, knowledge of English and literacy, and incidents of harassment or violence against tourists or foreigners are extremely rare.”
Canada’s travel advisory comes at a time Si Lanka is facing an unprecedented economic crisis due to heavy debt and bad policies in the past.
The island nation, which thrived pre-Independence is grappling with food shortages due to insufficient dollars for imports and lower harvest in its farmlands due to the government’s controversial change in its fertilizer policy.
Though the government has assured no shortages, already the 80 US dollar billion economy is seeing queues for kerosine, cooking gas, rice, milk powder, sugar, and wheat flour among many others.
Sri Lanka has also been facing a looming power crisis because the country’s state-run fuel retailer has said it does not have US dollars to buy diesel to run thermal power plants.
Prices of many essential goods have skyrocketed in the last six months with inflation hitting record high and double digit, resulting in a negative rate of returns for risk-free investments.
Canada was the first country to issue a travel advisory on Sri Lanka’s economic instability and its possible impacts on its travellers.
The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna (SLPP) coalition is facing a twin crisis of debt and forex. It has to pay around 6.9 billion US dollars in foreign loans this year while its forex reserves were at just 3.1 billion US dollars by end December.
The government shrugged off possible sovereign debt default concerns and requests to seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance to restructure debts, claiming that is has already been restructuring the debts. (Colombo/Jan19/2022)
As a Sri Lankan born Canadian living in Canada, I believe the Statement issued by Canadian Authorities is reasonable and accurate. I still have my immediate families living in Sri Lanka. We communicate on daily basis and much aware about ground reality. The Sri Lankan’s officials and authorities are so unreliable and cannot be trusted as they don’t act in good faith. Everything is politicized.