Since March 26, a petrol-laden ship has been anchored in Sri Lankan waters, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told parliament, confirming that the country was facing petrol availability problems, online portal newsfirst.lk reported.
“We do not have the US dollars to pay for the ship with gasoline,” he said, adding that in January 2022 there was a further 53 53 million in arrears for the same ship for the previous shipment.
The minister said the shipping company concerned had refused to release the ship till both the payments were settled.
Wijesekera said that after assurances from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to pay in advance, the company agreed to release the current ship after paying the arrears.
However, “we have not yet been able to raise funds for this purpose,” he said, adding that the ministry was working to release the ship on Wednesday or Thursday.
“That’s why we urge people not to wait in line for fuel. There is no problem with diesel. However, please do not stay in line for petrol. We have limited stock of petrol and are trying to deliver accordingly for necessary services.” , Especially ambulances, ”the minister said.
“We apologize for this. We understand that three-wheelers can only run on daily fuel purchases. We are appealing to the public not to be in line for fuel on Wednesdays and Thursdays,” he said.
The minister also appealed to the people to stop stockpiling fuel as there is no way to supply petrol for the next two days.
Wijesekera said it would take three more days from Friday to complete the distribution of petrol at all filling stations.
“Of the 67 proposals submitted to the ministry for energy procurement, 39 were identified as practically applicable in Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that no matter what the proposals were, the country could not import petrol without opening a letter of credit.
A letter of credit, also known as a documentary credit or bankers’ commercial credit or letter of undertaking, is a payment mechanism used to provide an economic guarantee to an exporter of goods from a creditworthy bank in international trade.
Wijesekera says Sri Lanka has ample diesel reserves.
“On Tuesday, we distributed Super Diesel and Auto Diesel at all the filling stations in the country. We hope to ensure uninterrupted supply of diesel to all 1,190 active filling stations in the country from today (Wednesday), even though there are 1,300 filling stations,” he told the House. Said.
As of June 2022, Sri Lanka needs US 5 530 million for energy imports, the minister said, adding that the country still needs US 500 500 million per month to buy fuel despite the benefits of the Indian credit line, up from USD 150 million two years ago.
Citing “high energy demand and currency devaluation” as the main reason, he said Sri Lanka would have to pay more than USD 700 million for its previous shipments of energy.
Earlier this month, India increased its current credit line by another 200 200 million to replenish Sri Lanka’s rapidly depleting fuel stock. India has pledged more than 3 3 billion to the indebted island nation in terms of loans, credit lines and credit swaps since January this year.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament that he had received USD 160 million from the World Bank and a grant from the ADB (Asian Development Bank) was also expected. However, the money received from the World Bank cannot be used to buy fuel.
“We’re trying to see if we can use it to buy some fuel,” he said.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A crippling deficit in foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power shortages and rising food prices have taken a toll on the population.
The economic crisis triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and the demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa.
President Gotabaya dismissed his cabinet in Rajapaksa and appointed a young cabinet in response to his resignation. Protests have been going on in front of his secretariat for more than a month.
On May 9, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned as prime minister to pave the way for the president to appoint an interim all-party government. On Thursday, Bikram Singh was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the country.