Sri Lanka plunges into deep fuel crisis, power cut extended to 10-hour daily
Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented acute economic and energy crisis caused due to shortage of foreign exchange.
Shortage of hydroelectricity triggered by non-availability of fuel has forced the Sri Lankan government to impose a nationwide 10-hour daily power cut. Oil refiners advised citizens not to queue at fuel stations as diesel runs out, and state-run hospitals don’t have enough life-saving medicines as the nation’s foreign-currency shortage spirals into a worsening humanitarian crisis.
Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented acute economic and energy crisis caused due to shortage of foreign exchange. A sudden rise in prices of key commodities and fuel shortage forced tens of thousands of people to queue for hours outside petrol filling stations. People are also facing long hours of power cuts daily, Bloomberg reported.
“This is a sad day,” Morning newspaper cited Janaka Ratnayake, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, as telling reporters in Colombo Tuesday after increasing the power cuts from seven hours a day.
Ceylon Petroleum Corp. requested the public not to queue for diesel on Wednesday and Thursday after the state-run refiner failed to unload a shipment of 37,500 metric tonnes of the fuel. Agence France-Presse interviewed doctors and health workers who spoke of dire shortages of vital drugs and diagnostic chemicals that are imported into the island nation.
All essentials are in short supply due to import restrictions forced by the forex crisis.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this month dropped resistance to a loan from the International Monetary Fund, and is simultaneously talking to countries including China, India and Bangladesh for bilateral aid.
“So far it has been India and China that has bailed us out, but on a very ad hoc basis,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. An IMF program will offer “access to international finance, which we do not have at the moment,” he added.
India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous USD 500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products.
During his just-concluded visit to Colombo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had assured India's continued support in Sri Lanka's economic recovery process.