The 22 million-person crisis-hit nation of Sri Lanka is down to barely 15,000 tons of gasoline and diesel to keep vital services running in the next days, according to a top government minister on Sunday.
With foreign exchange reserves at historic lows and the island withering under its worst financial crisis in seven decades, it is trying to pay for basic imports like gasoline, food, and medication.
“Finding suppliers is a challenge for us. Letters of credit from our institutions are not readily accepted there. Suppliers now want advance payments owing to the over $700 million in past due payments “Kanchana Wijesekera, the minister of power and energy, said reporters.
A $500 million Indian credit line that had been used to provide Sri Lanka with petroleum during the previous two months ran out in the middle of June. According to Wijesekera, a cargo of gasoline slated to arrive last Thursday did not, and no more supplies are currently scheduled.
“About 9,000 metric tons of diesel and 6,000 metric tons of gasoline are still available. Although we are making every effort, we are unsure of when additional stocks will be available.”
But in the early hours of Sunday, Sri Lanka likewise enforced a 12–20% rise in the price of gasoline. May’s price increase increased inflation to 45.3%, the highest level since 2015.
The government would concentrate on distributing the remaining inventories for public transportation, electricity production, and medical services, Wijesekera said, so those who are currently waiting in miles-long, winding lines outside petrol pumps are unlikely to acquire fuel.
He said that ports and airports will receive gasoline rationing. The military, which has previously been stationed at petrol stations to control disturbances, will now hand out tokens to people waiting, sometimes for days.
A million or more public employees were advised to work from home until further notice by the government on Sunday.
To examine the situation, a senior team from the US Treasury and State Departments landed in Colombo on Sunday for a three-day visit. For discussions over a potential $3 billion rescue package, a team from the International Monetary Fund is already in Sri Lanka.