Small businesses in Sri Lanka
have been majorly hit by the country's ongoing economic crisis, while the government is in no position to offer them subsidy to ensure they can power through.
Citizens continue to suffer from severe shortage of essential goods and drugs, fuel and power cuts.
Forty seven-year-old Sujith Perera, who has been driving tourists across Sri Lanka for the last 20 years, said he is finding it tough to navigate the economic crisis. First came the drop in tourists and then an acute fuel shortage, which is threatening to nudge his business off the road.
"I have worked in the tourism field for 20 years. This is for the first time we have to wait in queues for fuel and everyday items for long hours and because of that we can't even do our jobs properly," he said.
A short drive away, an eatery run by B Pradeep and his family is also in dire straits. "We are facing gas shortage, power cuts, everything is a problem," he said.
Anything that is available is expensive, and ultimately, unviable. "Earlier, we used to cook 20kg rice/day and now it has come down to 3kg rice/day," he said.
The economic crisis is also stifling shopowners who depend on tourism for sales. Darshana YM, owner of an apparels shop, said that tourists were not coming, so his business was not doing well.
The savings of these small business operators are getting depleted at an alarming rate. Sources of emergency funding to keep their engines running are nearly non-existent.
Political analyst Shashi Dhanatunge said, "If you look at small shops and cottage industries, they are almost dead and gone. The government cannot afford to give any subsidy at this stage, when they can't even meet the requirements for today's essentials."