Sri Lanka: New PM raises concern over fuel deficit

17 May, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

Sri Lanka's newly appointed prime minister has claimed that the cash-strapped island nation has run out of gas, citing the urgent need for $75 million in foreign exchange in the coming days to pay ...

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country’s new prime minister, says the country urgently needs $75 million to pay for crucial imports.

Sri Lanka’s newly appointed prime minister has claimed that the cash-strapped island nation has run out of gas, citing the urgent need for $75 million in foreign exchange in the coming days to pay for crucial imports such as medication.

“We’ve run out of gas… In an address to the nation on Monday, Ranil Wickremesinghe remarked, “We only have petrol stocks for a single day.” The country is suffering from fuel and medication shortages.

He also claimed that the government was unable to raise funds to pay for three oil shipments, which were awaiting payment outside the Colombo harbour before being released.

“The coming months will be the most difficult this country has ever faced,” he told the sources. “Obviously, this has an impact on all aspects of society, not just the industrial and manufacturing sectors, but also everyday life, children going to school, and everything else you can think of.”

“Until now, the public had no clear image of how bad things were. We kept getting reassured by different leaders, which didn’t help since people had a false sense of confidence that everything would turn out well,” she continued.

In a desperate attempt to appease protesters, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa replaced Mahinda, his elder brother, with Wickremesinghe, an opposition parliamentarian who has held the position five times previously.

The crisis triggered widespread protests against President Rajapaksa and his family, culminating in Mahinda’s resignation as prime minister last week after deadly violence.

Protesters, however, have rejected Wickremesinghe’s appointment as Prime Minister and continue to call for Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation. Protesters and experts have accused the Rajapaksas of economic mismanagement, which has contributed to the crisis.

Despite acknowledging the difficult period ahead, the new leader urged people to “patiently bear the next couple of months” and promised to overcome the crisis.

He also stated that the government would be forced to print money in order to pay the salaries of 1.4 million civil servants in May.

“Against my will, I am forced to allow the printing of money in order to pay state-sector employees and purchase essential goods and services,” he said.

He also warned that fuel and electricity prices would be significantly raised, and that his government would sell off its revenue-losing national carrier to reduce losses.

He also warned that fuel and electricity prices would be significantly raised, and that his government would sell off its revenue-losing national carrier to reduce losses.