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As the crisis gets worse, Sri Lanka cuts off fuel to services that aren't essential

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - A minister said that, starting Tuesday, schools will be closed and fuel will only be given to essential s...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - A minister said that, starting Tuesday, schools will be closed and fuel will only be given to essential services like health, trains, and buses for two weeks. This is a last-ditch effort to deal with a severe shortage.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis ever. The country's foreign exchange reserves are at an all-time low, and the 22 million people who live there are having trouble paying for imports of food, medicine, and, most importantly, fuel.

Industries like clothing, which bring in a lot of money for the country on the Indian Ocean, only have fuel for another week to ten days. Based on normal demand, Reuters's calculations show that the country will run out of stock in just under a week.

From Tuesday until July 10, Bandula Gunewardena, a spokesman for the government cabinet, told reporters that fuel will only be given to trains, buses, medical services, and vehicles that carry food.

Schools in cities will be closed, and he said everyone should work from home. There will be less bus service between provinces.

Gunewardena said that Sri Lanka had never been in such a bad economic situation before.

W.D. Shelton, who drives an autorickshaw, said he had to wait in line for fuel for four days.

He said, "I haven't slept or eaten well during this time." "We can't work, so our families can't eat."


The government is talking with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about a possible bailout, but many people can't wait that long, and passport requests have gone up.

A navy spokesman said that 54 people were arrested early Monday morning off the east coast as they tried to leave by boat. This is in addition to the 35 "boat people" who were held last week.

Last month, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's older brother quit as prime minister after clashes between pro-government and anti-government protesters turned into violence all over the country that killed nine people and hurt about 300 others.

If the fuel shortage gets worse, there could be another round of protests.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, asked for the government to step down.

"The country has completely fallen apart because of the lack of fuel," he said in a video message. "The government has repeatedly lied to the people and has no plan for what to do next."


On Sunday, the power minister said that the government has about 9,000 tonnes of diesel and 6,000 tonnes of gasoline in stock, but no more fuel is coming.

Lanka IOC, which is the local branch of Indian Oil Corporation, told Reuters that it had 22,000 tonnes of diesel and 7,500 tonnes of gasoline, and that it was expecting a shipment of 30,000 tonnes of gasoline and diesel on July 13.

Lanka IOC chief Manoj Gupta told Reuters that Sri Lanka needs about 5,000 tonnes of diesel and 3,000 tonnes of gasoline every day just to get around.

Industries like clothing and textiles are also big consumers. In May, their exports went up 30 percent to $482.7 million, according to data that came out on Monday.

The secretary general of the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Associations Forum, Yohan Lawrence, said, "We have enough fuel for the next seven to ten days, so we are getting by."

"We are waiting to see if more fuel arrives and what will happen in the next few days."

Sri Lanka's power regulator said that the country was using its last supplies of furnace oil to keep power outages to a minimum by running multiple thermal power plants. From Monday on, planned power cuts will last three hours instead of two and a half.

The head of Sri Lanka's Public Utilities Commission, Janaka Ratnayake, said, "We hope to keep power outages to three to four hours for the next two months." "But because of the country's situation, this could change."

An IMF team is in Sri Lanka to talk about a bailout package worth $3 billion. The country hopes to reach an agreement at the staff level before the visit ends on Thursday. However, this is not likely to free up money right away.

India has given it about $4 billion in financial help, and the Sri Lankan government said on Monday that the United States has agreed to help it manage its money in a better way.

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