Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday assured the people suffering from the unprecedented economic difficulties that his government is working round-the-clock to address their woes and appealed to protesters to end their agitation, saying every minute spent on streets deprives the cash-strapped country of precious dollars.

Also read: Sri Lanka hikes interest rates by 700 basis points to tackle inflation amid economic crisis

Amidst a growing pressure on him to quit following the unprecedented economic crisis facing the island nation, the embattled leader addressed the nation in a bid to calm the agitating people who are protesting on the streets over lengthy power outages and shortage of gas, food and other essentials.

“The government is working round-the-clock to overcome the economic crisis,” Mahinda, the elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said.

Also read: Sri Lanka seeks $3 billion in six months to manage crisis: Finance Minister

He also appealed to the protesters to end their anti-government agitation and said that every minute spent on streets deprives the country of dollar inflow.

The address of the prime minister came hours after Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that poor economic policies of the government had contributed to the country’s economic downturn.

He said the cost of living in the country is going from bad to worse due to the price increase of essential food items including medicine, milk powder, rice, sugar, dhal, wheat flour and items such as gas, diesel, kerosene oil and petrol.

Also read: Shortage of coal supply brews in India for 2nd consecutive year: Report

The Opposition Leader said that people gave ample time to President Rajapaksa to fulfill their requirements, especially by reducing the increasing cost of living but neither the President nor his Cabinet ministers were able to fulfill their demands.

The anti-government protests, which started on Saturday, continued to its third day on Monday.