Fuel crisis: Sri Lanka to shut govt offices, schools from next week

Due to chronic gasoline shortages, the Sri Lankan government has declared a week-long shutdown of public sector workplaces, commencing Monday, as the island nation continues to grapple with its greatest economic crisis.

Due to protracted power outages, the Sri Lankan Education Ministry has also instructed instructors in all government and government-approved private schools inside the Colombo city boundaries to conduct online courses beginning next week, according to the media.

Sri Lanka is under severe pressure to get foreign cash to pay for its imports as existing fuel inventories run out, bringing key sectors of the country’s economy to a stop.

As a result, there have been reports of spontaneous protests at filling stations around the country, where customers have been waiting for hours in huge serpentine lines for fuel.

In a circular released on Friday, the Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry said, “Taking into account the severe constraints on gasoline supply, the inadequate public transportation system, and the difficulty in utilizing private automobiles, this circular enables minimum employees to report to work on Monday.”

Those working in the healthcare industry, however, must continue to report to work, according to the circular.

According to the media daily, the Sri Lankan Education Ministry said that all official and government-approved private schools inside the Colombo city boundaries will be closed for the next week owing to protracted power outages, and urged instructors to conduct courses online.

For the past several months, Sri Lanka has experienced power outages lasting up to 13 hours each day.

Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped government approved several measures earlier this week, including imposing a 2.5 percent social contribution tax on businesses based on their turnover and declaring Fridays as holidays for most public sector workers, to aid economic recovery and mitigate the country’s energy and food crises.

The Cabinet also authorized a plan to provide government employees one week of paid time off every week for the next three months to work in agriculture in order to combat the impending food crisis.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stated on Friday that the food scarcity might affect four to five million people out of the country’s 22 million people.

In April, the virtually insolvent government stated that it would delay roughly USD 7 billion in foreign debt repayments due this year, out of around USD 25 billion due through 2026, due to an extreme foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default.

Sri Lanka owes a total of USD 51 billion in international debt.

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