After the government revealed on Saturday that cash-strapped Sri Lanka had run out of petroleum, the country announced on Sunday that ministers would travel to Russia and Qatar to get lower-cost oil.
A two-week closure of non-essential public institutions has been prolonged until further notice to conserve fuel, with a skeleton workforce in place to perform the minimum services required.
An energy minister has announced that two of her colleagues will fly to Russia on Monday to discuss the acquisition of further oil following the purchase of 90,000 tonnes of Siberian crude in September.
Politicians have been encouraging authorities to deal directly with Vladimir Putin’s regime, although this cargo was negotiated through a Dubai-based middleman known as Coral Energy.
As Wijesekera told reporters in Colombo, “two ministers are travelling to Russia, and I will travel to Qatar tomorrow to see if we can agree on concessionary arrangements.”
On Saturday, Wijesekera had said that Sri Lanka was nearly out of petrol and diesel because of “banking” delays.
Wijesekera apologised for the situation, saying that fuel stocks were adequate to cover less than two days’ demand and that it was being conserved for vital services.
Fuel prices were raised by 15% on Sunday to 460 rupees ($1.27) per litre for diesel and by 22% to 550 rupees per litre for gasoline at the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
There has been a dramatic increase in the cost of fuel and gasoline since the beginning of the year.
There would be an indefinite delay in receiving new supplies of oil, Wijesekera said, and he asked motorists not to wait in line until he implements the token system for a restricted number of cars each day.
The United States is also looking at the situation.
The US Treasury and State Departments came to Colombo to “examine the most efficient ways for the US to help Sri Lankans in need,” according to the US embassy.
There has never been a more vital time for the United States to assist economic development and improve democratic institutions than it is right now, according to US ambassador Julie Chung.
Kelly Keiderling and Robert Kaproth were among the delegation from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Sri Lankans have received $158.75 million in additional aid from the embassy during the previous two weeks, the agency said.
“Life-saving help” is needed by almost 1.7 million people, according to a UN rapid appeal launched last week.
Food shortages and soaring costs have forced many people in the country of 22 million to cut back on their consumption, according to the United Nations.
As Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament, more difficulties were on the way.
A “total catastrophe” of our economy has been confronted, Wickremesinghe stated. Fuel, gas, power, and food shortages aren’t the only problems we’re dealing with right now.
To avoid a rescue from the International Monetary Fund, the government declared a default in April because of its inability to fulfil its $51 billion foreign debt.
Sri Lanka’s official inflation rate at the end of May was 45.3 percent, but private analysts estimate it at 128 percent, making it the second-highest in the world behind Zimbabwe.