India

Sri Lanka Has Only A Day’s Petrol Stock Left, Banks On India: PM Ranil Warns Nation

By
OB Bureau

Colombo: Sri Lanka has petrol stocks which will last just one more day, newly-appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the nation, which is going through its worst economic crisis since Independence in 1948.

“I am undertaking a dangerous challenge… I am wearing shoes with sharp nails that cannot be removed…I am accepting this challenge for our nation. My goal and dedication is not to save an individual, a family, or a party. My objective is to save all the people of this country and the future of our younger generation,” Wickremesinghe said.

“At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day,” he said during his first televised address since being sworn in as Prime Minister last week to succeed Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned after violence erupted following an attack on anti-government protesters by his supporters.

Sri Lanka is banking on supply from India to ease diesel shortages.

“Due to the diesel shipment that arrived yesterday, the lack of diesel will be resolved to some extent. Under the Indian credit line, two more diesel shipments are due to arrive on the 18th May and 1st June. In addition, two petrol shipments are expected on 18th and 29th May,” the PM said.

He warned Sri Lankans the next two months would be the toughest and asserted that his aim is to save the country from ongoing economic crisis, and not a person, family or group. It was understood to be a reference to the Rajapaksa family – President Gotobaya and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa – who have held sway for nearly two decades.

“I am undertaking a dangerous challenge… I am wearing shoes with sharp nails that cannot be removed…I am accepting this challenge for our nation. My goal and dedication is not to save an individual, a family, or a party. My objective is to save all the people of this country and the future of our younger generation,” Wickremesinghe said.

He informed that US dollars will be sourced from open markets to pay for petrol, crude, furnace oil shipments currently in Sri Lankan waters.

“For over 40 days 3 ships with crude oil and furnace oil have been anchored within the maritime zone of Sri Lanka. We are working to obtain dollars in the open market to pay for these shipments,” he added.

Since a quarter of electricity in Sri Lanka is generated through oil, there is the possibility of daily power outages increasing to 15 hours a day, he warned.

Another grave concern is lack of medicines.

“There is a severe shortage of a number of medicines including medicine required for heart disease as well as surgical equipment. Payments have not been made for four months to suppliers of medicine, medical equipment, and food for patients. The payment owed to them amounts to SLR 34 billion,” he informed.

He said he would reluctantly have to permit money printing to pay public service salaries, adding that a relief budget will be introduced to replace the 2022 Development Budget.

OB Bureau

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