Lankan newspapers run out of newsprint due to forex crisis; suspend publication


PTI, Mar 26, 2022, 12:52 PM IST

AP photo (for representational purpose)

Sri Lanka’s two major newspapers on Saturday suspended their publication over newsprint shortage and price escalation caused by the country’s all-time worst foreign exchange crisis.

The Island, an English daily along with its sister Sinhala paper Divayina, ceased to print as the newsprint scarcities and price escalations hit the media organisation.

“We regret to inform our readers that we have been compelled to suspend the publication of The Island print edition on Saturday until further notice in view of the newsprint shortage,” Upali Newspapers Limited said in a statement.

Sri Lanka is facing its all-time worst foreign exchange crisis after the pandemic hit the nation’s earnings from tourism and remittances.

The import costs of newsprint also rose remarkably since the government’s decision early this month to float the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar.

The Island newspaper, which has been in print since October 1981, will now function as an e-paper.

Sri Lanka is facing an acute economic and energy crisis triggered due to shortage of foreign exchange. A sudden rise in prices of key commodities and fuel shortage forced tens of thousands of people to queue for hours outside petrol filling stations. People are also facing long hours of power cuts daily.

All essentials are in short supply due to import restrictions forced by the forex crisis.

As part of its measures to tackle the crisis, the Sri Lankan government has sought India’s assistance. After months of resistance, the government is preparing to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an economic bailout.

In a related development, the Indian Oil Corporation’s local entity LIOC effected another price hike of petrol with effect from midnight Friday. This was the LIOC’s fourth price hike since February.

India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to help the country deal with the economic crisis. New Delhi had extended a USD 500 million line of credit to Colombo in February to help it purchase petroleum products.

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