Schools closed, work limited due to fuel shortage

Sri Lankan authorities on Friday closed schools and asked civil servants not to come to work in a desperate move to prepare for a severe fuel shortage that is expected to last for days amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. .

The Ministry of Public Administration has asked public officials – with the exception of those maintaining essential services – not to come to work on Friday “given the current shortage of fuel and transport infrastructure problems” in across the country.

State and government-approved private schools also closed on Friday amid worsening fuel shortages, with thousands of people lining up at gas stations across the country for days at a time. .

Sri Lanka is now almost without gasoline and also faces a severe shortage of other fuels.

The government has struggled to find money to pay for the import of fuel, gas and other essentials in recent months as the Indian Ocean island nation teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

Its economic difficulties caused a political crisis, with the government facing widespread protests and unrest.

For months, Sri Lankans have endured long queues to buy these necessities, most of which come from abroad. Hard currency shortages have also hampered imports of raw materials for manufacturing and aggravated inflation.

Protesters blocked major roads to demand petrol and fuel, and TV stations showed residents in some areas fighting over limited supplies. Authorities have announced nationwide power cuts of up to four hours a day because they cannot supply enough fuel to power plants.

Sri Lanka has suspended repayment of about $7 billion in foreign loans due this year out of the $25 billion to be repaid by 2026. The country’s total external debt is $51 billion.

The Ministry of Finance says the country currently has only $25 million in usable foreign exchange reserves. Protesters have occupied the entrance to the president’s office for more than a month, calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Months of anti-government rallies have led to the near dismantling of the once-powerful ruling family, with one of the president’s brothers stepping down as prime minister, and other siblings and a nephew quitting their cabinet posts.

Protesters accuse the Rajapaksas of triggering the crisis through corruption and mismanagement. Sri Lanka’s new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said on Monday some $75 billion was urgently needed to help deliver essential items, but the country’s treasury is struggling to find even more. a billion dollars.

Attacks by Rajapaksa supporters on protesters last week sparked nationwide violence that left nine dead – including a lawmaker – and more than 200 injured. The homes of lawmakers and their supporters were burned down.

(To receive our daily E-paper on WhatsApp, please Click here. To receive it on Telegram, please Click here. We allow the PDF of the document to be shared on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2022, 4:39 PM IST

Comments are closed.