Sri Lankans living in Australia refrain from sending money to motherland
Sri Lankans living in Australia are refraining from sending desperately-needed funds to struggling friends and family back home, fearing money will never end up in the hands of those in need because the government will steal it.
Multiple members of the Sri Lankan community contacted by NCA NewsWire have lost trust in the government to the point where they believe their financial aid will be intercepted, leading to a feeling of helplessness amid the country’s economic crisis.
The government blames the crisis on the pandemic, but economic experts say the country’s misfortunes are due to monetary mismanagement.
Shortages have become so dire that only essential services are currently allowed to fill up fuel, while fears of a famine grow amid a concerning undersupply of food.
The secretary of the North Victoria Sri Lankan Welfare and Cultural Association says the Sri Lankan community feels powerless.
“We can’t help. If you look on Facebook in the morning, you’ll have messages from a few friends in Sri Lanka asking for help,” he said.
“The thing is, the country needs dollars, but because of the frustration and disappointment, some Sri Lankan-Australians don’t want to send money.
“If we send dollars, the government will take it – it’s not going to help the community.
“The government says to send money through proper channels. We don’t want to do that, we don’t trust doing that.”
Australians looking to donate to the country should be wary of sending money, he warned, suggesting medical supplies could help make more of a difference.“In terms of money, I don’t think money’s a good idea at all,” he said.
The Australian government in June announced it would provide US$50 million in emergency aid, with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil recently travelling to Colombo to stem the flow of Sri Lankans trying to reach Australia by boat.
He stresses Sri Lanka needs tourism to inject desperately needed money into its economy, but travelling there is unappealing because of gas and food shortages.
Other members of the Sri Lankan community in Australia also expressed their concern in not feeling safe providing financial aid to loved ones, but they wanted to remain anonymous because they fear government repercussions when they eventually return to the island nation.
They describe President Gotabaya Rajapaska and his government as corrupt, even suggesting the current cricket series against Australia was established to distract the people from their country’s problems.