Sri Lanka sends SOS message to India for fuel, suspends retail sale for 2 weeks
Sri Lanka’s high commissioner Milinda Moragoda discussed with Hardeep Singh Puri the “possibility of securing petrol and diesel supplies that are required by Sri Lanka at present on an urgent basis”
NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka’s high commissioner Milinda Moragoda on Monday discussed his country’s urgent energy requirements with petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri even as authorities in Colombo announced a two-week halt to fuel sales except for essential services.
Moragoda briefed Puri on the “acute challenges” that Sri Lanka is facing with regard to the supply and distribution of petroleum products and the severe hardships the people are undergoing, according to a statement from the Sri Lankan mission.
Thanking India for the assistance extended in the form of lines of credit to import fuel, Moragoda discussed with Puri the “possibility of securing petrol and diesel supplies that are required by Sri Lanka at present on an urgent basis”. Puri responded positively and assured the high commissioner of “all possible support to Sri Lanka at this critical juncture”, the statement said.
Puri and the high commissioner discussed modalities through which India and Sri Lanka can further expand cooperation in the petroleum sector to help overcome the immediate crisis and to ensure energy security in Sri Lanka.
In this context, Moragoda and Puri discussed ways and means through which Sri Lanka can establish long-term ties in the petroleum, oil, gas and related logistics sectors.
Sri Lanka announced the two-week halt to all fuel sales and appealed to the private sector to work from home as it ran out of supplies.
“From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have,” Sri Lankan government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana said.
A high-level Indian delegation led by foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra that visited Colombo last week had assured Sri Lanka of the country’s “fullest support” in overcoming the island nation’s worst economic crisis in decades. India has been closely monitoring the economic crisis, which has already resulted in a severe shortage of fuel and a sharp increase in food prices.
Sri Lanka has sought a fresh currency swap of $1 billion and a new $500-million line of credit for fuel purchases, though the Indian side is yet to respond to these requests, people familiar with the matter said.
India has provided economic and humanitarian aid worth more than $3.5 billion to Sri Lanka since the beginning of the year, including a currency swap, lines of credit to fund emergency purchases of food, fuel and medicines and deferring the repayment of two loans to the Asian Clearing Union.