Classic text reporting, backed up with data, exploring the how and why. Best consumed when you have thirty minutes to spare and a cup of tea on hand.
Sri Lanka’s Import Restriction Predicament
Sri Lanka's economy and imports have struggled in the past two years due to a shortage of foreign exchange and a cash-strapped government. Imports were restricted as a protectionist policy. The article explores the impact of imports on the economy and people, what Sri Lanka imports, how imports are paid for, and the effectiveness of recent import restrictions.
Too Slow Too Furious
Examining Sri Lanka’s incompetent, inefficient, and increasingly overloaded transport systems.
@December 1, 2022.
From currency board to Chinese loans - How accurate are the claims about Sri Lanka’s economic crisis?
Sri Lanka is currently going through the worst economic crisis since its independence and defaulted foreign debt repayment in April 2022. This crisis is the result of a series of policy mishaps that have steadily weakened the economy over the last few decades. Decisions made contrary to the advice of experts in 2020 and 2022 exposed the extent of the damage. Consequently, the country was compelled to default its debt and seek IMF support. While there roots of the crisis constitute long lasting policy and governance issues, certain global ‘experts’ and politicians have offered their own takes on Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. We’ve had a comprehensive look at some of these claims and laid the facts out here.
@October 18, 2022
Gota Go, Gota Gone — Sri Lanka’s Bastille Moment
As Sri Lanka trundled into its worst economic crisis since Independence - partly due to corruption, terrible policies, vampiric politicians, and mismanagement - the public rose with one main demand: for its reigning (former) President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to leave immediately. In this piece, we follow the birth of the protests, the runaway ex-President, and what it all led to.
@September 26, 2022
Oddamavadi: no rest for the dead
Two years ago, the government passed a compulsory cremation policy for those who died of COVID-19, with no clear reason for it other than hyper nationalism and xenophobia. After months of campaigning and pressure both locally and internationally, the gazette on the subject was revoked. Instead, families had to bury their dead in a far-flung village in the East, and supply funds and labour - despite the government sitting on billions raised by the Itukama fund.
@August 29, 2022
Going “Organic” - The Farmer’s Tale
We spent a week on the road in April (before the fuel crisis hit particularly hard) speaking to farmers across the five main agricultural districts in the country. These are the people’s stories spanning an island, which have been ignored for way too long.
@July 18, 2022
Hambantota: fertiliser, fuel, and man-made disaster
In this series assessing the impact of the fertiliser ban on farmers, Watchdog travelled across five major agrarian districts. Here, in the first of five pieces, is our update from Hambantota — of drastic drops in yields and the farming community’s fears for the future.
@June 24, 2022
7-Billion Rupee Software: The Monstrous Idiocy of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation
What does the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation want, exactly? We read the documentation so you don’t have to. Welcome to one of the stupidest software requests we’ve seen.
@June 17, 2022
Fertiliser - Broken Promises & Policy Blunders
Sri Lanka is facing its harshest food crisis in recent history. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s blanket ban on fertiliser can be attributed as the direct cause for this crisis. In this piece we’ll explore the history of the fertiliser subsidy, the timeline against which Sri Lanka’s fertiliser ban was set, the cost so far, and a glimpse into its impact.
@June 10, 2022
Anonymous #OpSriLanka - Hackers & Gatecrashers
If you invite strangers to a party, you have to deal with the consequences. In this piece we try to establish a timeline of events for Sri Lanka’s most recent outing with Anonymous. We assess the impact, and give you some insights into the movement’s modus operandi.
@June 8, 2022
Sri Lanka’s future with the IMF
Following our series on Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, we take a look at what the IMF can do for us, and how we need to step up — by reforming taxes, legislature, and policies.
@May 19, 2022
The Attack on GotaGoGama: The Aftermath
It’s been an incredibly long week — from vigilantes setting fire to things, the Central Bank Governor threatening to resign, the Prime Minister actually resigning, to swearing in a new (but old) Prime Minister after days of chaos. Here’s the breakdown.
@May 13, 2022
The SLPP Attack on GotaGoGama: a Timeline
A record of what happened on the 9th of May, 2022, told with images, video and the occasional map.
@May 11, 2022
Crosses and Curses — the legacy of the Easter Sunday Attacks
Three years from the Easter Sunday attacks, we are still grappling with the impact on families affected by the bombings, the empty promises for justice, and the continued misuse of the PTA to target and harass minorities.
@May 1, 2022
Sri Lanka’s road to IMF, explained
Watchdog’s resident economist Umesh Moramudali explains what Sri Lanka defaulting means, for us, and for the country.
@April 16, 2022
#AskWatchdog: where do we go from here?
Your frequently asked questions and plans for going forward from the #SriLankaCrisis, and our answers. Questions are sent to us by our readership, and we’ll keep the answers updated - this is a living document.
Explainer: What is this state of Emergency?
The President has declared a state of emergency. What is a state of emergency, how does it affect you, and what do you need to know about how it works? We break down the complex laws into an easily understandable summary. Click here to read.
@April 2, 2022
Incident report: The Mirihana Protest, summarised
A timeline of the major events that happened yesterday, using footage shared on social media. Click here to read.
@April 1, 2022
What exactly is the Special GST and Surcharge Tax Bill?
On taxes: we now have the Special Goods and Services Tax (SGST) Bill, and the Surcharge Tax Bill. One of them died in the Supreme Court recently, but the other is very much alive. Here’s a brief 101 on what they’re all about.
@March 31, 2022
Fertilizer: a Sri Lankan Tragedy
Why do we use fertilizer in the first place? In this piece, we take you from Robert Malthus’s influential fears of famine from the 17th century, to the invention of fertilizer, to the impact it had on both global agriculture and our little colonised state.
@March 26, 2022
The Myth of the Agricultural Nation
Can the methods of the ancients really feed the current population of Sri Lanka? Are we agriculturally self-sufficient? A grain of rice is a wonderful thing, but we need several grains of salt to take this mytho-history at face value. Click here to read.
@March 24, 2022
The Sri Lankan Foreign Debt Problem
Dollars and debt; the battle-cry of our times. As our economy slowly sinks, we dig into the debt story to show you exactly who Sri Lanka owes money to, why, when, and for what. Are we in a Chinese debt trap? What does our ISB debt really look like? Can we actually repay all this? Click here to read.
@March 6, 2022
What's happening with the Sri Lankan economy?
Our economy is fucked. But why? And how? Our resident economist explains how we ended up tilting headlong into this crisis. Click here to read.
@February 1, 2022
Don’t panic! In this piece, we dig into the laws of the country to explain how the Central Bank converts your dollars to rupees. Click here to read.
@February 1, 2022
The Sri Lankan powercut saga: a history of bad decisions
Why are we having all these powercuts? And why doesn’t anyone seem to be able to do anything about it? We dig into every aspect of power generation in this country: from the power plants, to their output, to how we ran out of fuel to keep the lights on. Click here to read.
@January 23, 2022