Cost of living: ‘How to manage?’ laments Sri Lankan market vendor

by | Jul 28, 2022 | World

This story is part of a series of portraits exploring how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people around the world.Colombo, Sri Lanka – Mohamed Rajabdeen’s four-wheel yellow mini-truck, known locally as a tempo, is parked at a street corner in Colombo’s Pettah market, one of the city’s busiest and most bustling shopping districts. The back of his vehicle opens on all three sides, doubling up as a vending stall, from which he sells a mix of first- and second-hand goods.
He points to a large grey toolbox sitting amid spanners, wires and car jacks. “You see this?” he asks. “Earlier, it was LKR5,000 or LKR6,000 ($14 or $17). Now? It’s LKR10,000 ($28). I got this months ago and it’s still unsold.” Previously he could sell up to three per week.
Sri Lanka has been reeling under a severe economic crisis since March. Petrol and diesel supplies are limited, and kilometre-long fuel queues have become common in the capital. Inflation has hit consumer goods and food items alike. Experts blame a variety of factors: ballooning debt, a drop in tourism and foreign remittances, and political mismanagement.
“Our country’s situation is very bad,” says Rajabdeen. “No measures are being taken to control inflation.” Like millions of others in the island nation, the 35-year-old’s life and business have taken a hit. “How to manage?” he asks with a disconsolate shrug, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt with a pouch containing cash sl …

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