Sri Lanka Church to skip Independence extravagance
The church is opposed to shelling out a huge sum of money on the 75th Independence Day at a time of currency crunch
Dancers from Sri Lanka perform during celebrations marking the nation’s 74th Independence Day February 4, 2022 in Colombo. (Photo: AFP)
Church leaders in Sri Lanka have decided to avoid the government’s Independence Day celebrations, citing economic woes and the breakdown of the rule of law in the bankrupt island nation.
An estimated $552,000 will be spent celebrating its 75th Independence Day on February 4, when a roadmap for the next 25 years ahead of the bankrupt nation is set to be released.
“It is a great crime and a waste to hold an Independence Day ceremony when the country is economically bankrupt,” said Father Cyril Gamini, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Colombo.
He said the entire Church in Sri Lanka, including its cardinal, bishops, priests, nuns and the laity, will not attend the celebrations because the celebration is being “organized by spending a huge sum of money at a time of currency exchange crisis in the Country”.
Sri Lanka, currently run by an interim government, plunged into politics after bankrupting in May last year. Its economic crisis was considered the worst since independence from Britain in 1948, as it involved restructuring about $50 billion in external debt.
According to the United Nations, almost 30 percent of the 22 million inhabitants are affected by food insecurity due to the severe economic crisis.
“What is the freedom to celebrate proudly in a country that is economically bankrupt and unable to pay its foreign debt, in a country where more than 30 percent of the people are starving, in a country where children are malnourished,” he said Father Gamini .
Independence Day is celebrated in Sri Lanka with a grand military parade, speeches and ceremonies, and a range of cultural programs including music and dance.
“On the 75th anniversary of independence, all political parties that have ruled the country for the last 75 years should publicly apologize to the people for their mistakes.”
All who have stolen the country’s resources should be brought to justice and taxes recovered from corrupt businessmen who have not paid the taxes,” the priest said.
Several political parties are distancing themselves from Independence Day celebrations in the money-starved nation.
“It’s funny, more than 200 million rupees (approx.
Niluka said the loan amount China has provided to Sri Lanka is about $7 billion and India is $1 billion.
“How people eat and drink here is decided based on these loan repayments,” said Niluka, a university student.
After defaulting on its debt, Sri Lanka entered talks with the IMF to secure a bailout package that could inject much-needed $2.9 billion in cash into its economy.
Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe advised officials to celebrate the 75th Independence Day inexpensively but proudly.