Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, Prime Minister tells crisis-hit nation - South Asia Time

Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, Prime Minister tells crisis-hit nation

 May 17, 2022  

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s new prime minister said on Monday the crisis-hit nation was down to its last day of petrol, as the country’s power minister told citizens not to join the lengthy fuel queues that have galvanized weeks of anti-government protests.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, appointed prime minister on Thursday, said in an address to the nation the country urgently needed $75 million in foreign exchange to pay for essential imports.

“At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day. The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives,” he said.

“We must prepare ourselves to make some sacrifices and face the challenges of this period.”

Two shipments of petrol and two shipments of diesel using an Indian credit line could provide relief in the next few days, he added — but the country is also facing a shortage of 14 essential medicines.

Sri Lanka currently faces a budget deficit of $6.8 billion (2.4 trillion Sri Lankan rupees), or 13% of their GDP.

The crisis led to widespread protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family, culminating in the resignation of his elder brother Mahinda as prime minister last week after fighting between government supporters and protesters killed nine people and wounded 300.

In response to the crisis, Wickremesignhe said the country will print more money and propose to privatize Sri Lanka’s flagship airline to keep the economy afloat — though he conceded that inflation may worsen in the short term.

In his address on Thursday, he vowed to “build a nation without queues for kerosene, gas, and fuel … a nation with plentiful resources.” Read more at CNN