Sri Lanka stops using fuel, only essential services operate until July 10
Sri Lanka, hit by a major economic crisis, has run out of fuel and only essential services will operate from midnight. The list of essential services will include health, law and order, ports, airports, food distribution and agriculture. All non-essential services have been suspended until July 10 and available fuel reserves have been spent on essential services. The government has also introduced a token system for fuel distribution.
Government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana told AFP news agency: “From midnight today, there will be no fuel sales except for essential services such as the health sector, as we want to conserve small reserves. what I have”.
Schools will remain closed and employees of private offices have been asked to work from home. Government officials have been asked to choose to work from home.
This is the first time the island nation of 22 million people has run out of fuel. Since the beginning of this year, fuel prices have increased fivefold. The last price increase took place yesterday.
The retail price of diesel is 460 Lankan rupees and retail petrol is 550 a litre.
Sri Lanka’s energy minister confirmed and urged people not to queue at fuel stations. A shipment was supposed to arrive today, but suppliers have expressed that they are unable to deliver, citing lack of payment commitments and logistical problems. No shipments were scheduled as the country ran out of dollars.
Sources say the Lankan ministers will travel to Russia and Qatar to discuss supplying more fuel to the country in the coming days. The International Monetary Fund is in Sri Lanka negotiating a possible bailout.
Sri Lanka has been reeling from its biggest economic crisis since Independence in 1948 and has been unable to finance imports of food, medicine or fuel since late last year.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Public Administration ordered all departments, public authorities and local councils to maintain skeleton services due to a shortage of duels.
“Due to the scarcity of public transport and the inability to arrange personal vehicles, the decision was made to drastically reduce the number of employees reporting to work,” the ministry order said.
The order comes a day after the United Nations launched the emergency program. The United Nations says four out of five people in Sri Lanka skip meals because they can’t afford to eat. The World Food Program says it has begun distributing food stamps to about 2,000 pregnant women in parts of Colombo.