10/15/2021, 17.01
SRI LANKA
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Women leading fight against rising prices

by Melanie Manel Perera

Gas, milk, and flour cost twice as much. Some women's groups are speaking out against the government's economic policies. At a market in downtown Colombo, kerosene stoves were sold out in two days due to higher energy prices.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The prices of energy and basic necessities have risen in Sri Lanka, pushing some women’s groups to call on the government to review its economic policies.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently eliminated subsidies on cement, milk powder and flour, while the Consumer Affairs Authority has allowed the country's gas suppliers to raise prices, which have doubled since 11 October; for example, a five-kilo domestic gas cylinder that cost US$ 2.50 now costs US$ 5.45.

 “Many housewives went to shops to find kerosene stoves," said Samanmalee Gunasinghe, coordinator of the Women for Rights organisation. But even their prices are “out of control.” As a result, “people today are helpless”.

At the Pettah market, in downtown Colombo, kerosene stoves were almost all sold in two days, at double their regular price, reports Charles Pradeep, president of the United National Association of Self-Employed Traders.

Stove prices went up from US$ 7,50 to US$ 15. “The recent increase of the price of gas has burdened the people to a great extent,” Pradeep explained.

While data from Sri Lanka’s central bank indicate that the inflation rate fell to 5.07 per cent last month, Gunasinghe said her organisation will urge the president and the cabinet to go to the market to see the prices of essential goods.

While women “cannot give milk to their children, the country’s leaders are getting rich," noted the activist.

“The country’s debt is 18 trillion rupees (US$ 89 billion), but 14 trillion of it was stolen” by corrupt leaders.

The Savisthari Women's Organisation will also send a petition accusing the government of deliberately raising prices, thus making life impossible for ordinary Sri Lankans.

Several women who spoke to AsiaNews complained about the situation.

“This is very bad treatment of the poor people in the country,” said one “It is very, very difficult to cope with these new prices for milk, flour” as well as “cooking gas.”

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