Inflation in crisis-hit Sri Lanka hits new record

Protesters in Sri Lanka demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in a rally on May 21, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's inflation hit a seventh consecutive record high in April as a petrol shortage worsened and food prices rose sharply, official data showed on Monday (May 23).

The National Consumer Price Index rose 33.8 per cent year on year in April, more than six times the 5.5 per cent inflation of a year earlier.

Annual food inflation stood at 45.1 per cent, according to the latest data released by the Department of Census and Statistics.

Hammered by a foreign exchange crisis, the country's 22 million people have been enduring acute shortages of essentials - including food and medicine - for months.

Protests are continuing outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office demanding his resignation over the unprecedented economic turmoil.

Inflation is likely to rise further in May as fuel price hikes of 35 per cent for petrol and 65 per cent for diesel - commonly used in public transport - feed into the wider economy.

Petrol remains in short supply, with long queues outside the few pumping stations still distributing the fuel.

Last month, Sri Lanka asked the International Monetary Fund for emergency assistance. The country has defaulted on its US$51 billion (S$70 billion) external debt and is seeking international aid to revive the bankrupt economy.

The economy has collapsed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with a nosedive in tourism revenues and foreign worker remittances.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.