Image Source: DW
A top government minister said that the 22 million-person crisis-hit nation of Sri Lanka is down to barely 15,000 tons of petrol and gasoline to keep vital services operating in the coming days. Fresh fuel supplies are difficult to get, he added.
As a result of record-low foreign exchange reserves and the island’s most significant financial crisis in seven decades, it is rushing to pay for imports of basic necessities, including food, fuel, and medication.
“Finding vendors has proven to be difficult. Our banks’ letters of credit are not readily accepted by them. Suppliers are asking for advance payments as there are over $700 million in past payments, “Press was informed by Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera.
A $500 million Indian credit line, which ran out in mid-June, was used mainly by Sri Lanka to obtain petroleum over the previous two months. However, according to Wijesekera, a gasoline supply that was supposed to arrive last Thursday did not, and no new supplies are currently planned.
“There are still roughly 6,000 and 9,000 tons of gasoline and diesel, respectively. Despite our best efforts, we cannot predict when additional stocks will be available.”
In the early hours of Sunday, Sri Lanka did, however, also enact a 12–20% increase in the price of gasoline. As a result of a price increase in May, inflation reached 45.3 percent, its highest level since 2015.
According to Wijesekera, the government will concentrate on distributing the remaining stocks for public transportation, electricity generation, and medical services. As a result, the people now standing in miles-long, winding lines outside of petrol pumps are unlikely to acquire fuel.
He added that ports and airports would receive fuel rations in addition to the tokens that the military—which has already been stationed at fuel stations to quell unrest—would now be giving out to those who had been waiting, sometimes for days.
Around a million public employees were urged to work from home until further notice on Sunday, according to separate requests from the government.
A group from the US Treasury and State Departments visited Colombo for three days to assess the situation. Currently in Sri Lanka for discussions over a potential $3 billion rescue package is a team from the International Monetary Fund.