COLOMBO: Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt Tuesday as the island nation grapples with its worst economic crisis in memory and widespread protests demanding the government's resignation, reports AFP.
Acute food and fuel shortages, alongside long daily electricity blackouts, have brought widespread suffering to the country's 22 million people in the most painful downturn since independence in 1948.
Sri Lanka's finance ministry said the country was defaulting on all external obligations, including loans from foreign governments, ahead of an International Monetary Fund bailout.
"The government is taking the emergency measure only as a last resort in order to prevent further deterioration of the republic's financial position," a statement from the ministry said.
Creditors were free to capitalise any interest payments due to them or opt for payback in Sri Lankan rupees, the ministry added.