Sri Lanka’s gasoline supplies will last for roughly five more days, according to the country’s power and energy minister, while the island nation waits for official approval from India on a fresh $500 million petroleum credit line.
After its foreign exchange reserves plummeted to historic lows, the country’s 22 million inhabitants are facing their biggest financial crisis in seven decades, with dollars running out to pay for vital imports such as food, medicine, and fuel.
Chronic gasoline shortages have increased this week, with kilometer-long lineups at several gas stations around the country, sparking intermittent protests as motorists wait for petrol and diesel, sometimes overnight.
Fuel for automobiles, several industries, and critical services are all covered by the stockpiles. The prime minister claimed a month ago that there was just enough gasoline for one day.
According to Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera, Sri Lanka is unable to repay $725 million in late payments to suppliers and is also having difficulty securing letters of credit for future shipments.
“We’re having trouble getting fuel supplies owing to our currency problems, and the administration is striving to manage current diesel and gasoline stockpiles until June 21,” he told reporters. “We’re having a hard time keeping up with demand, and if we don’t cut back on non-essential travel and stop stockpiling fuel, inventories might run out much faster.”
“We expect a gasoline cargo in the next three days, followed by two more shipments in the following eight days,” he said.
Sri Lanka is awaiting clearance from the Indian government’s Exim Bank on a $500 million credit line, which Wijesekera said will be used to cover petroleum supplies for the next several weeks.
During the financial crisis, India was a crucial backer, providing around $3 billion in aid, including a $1 billion credit line for necessary imports and a $400 million swap.
The country is also negotiating a rescue deal with the International Monetary Fund, and a delegation from the lender is slated to arrive in Sri Lanka on June 20.