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Daily 10-hour powercut, long queue at petrol pumps: Sri Lanka’s economic & energy crisis worsen

The shortage of hydroelectricity triggered by the non-availability of fuel has led to the crisis. A scarcity of foreign exchange has pushed Sri Lanka into an economic crisis

Colombo: The economic and energy crisis in Sri Lanka continues to intensify with the country’s government imposing a nationwide 10-hour daily power cut on Wednesday (March 30). The shortage of hydroelectricity triggered by the non-availability of fuel has led to the crisis. 

A shortage of foreign exchange has pushed the country into an economic crisis and Sri Laka is witnessing a sudden rise in the prices of key commodities. There is also an acute shortage of fuel forcing people to queue for long hours outside petrol filling stations. People are also facing long hours of power cuts daily. All essentials are in short supply due to import restrictions forced by the forex crisis. The daily power cuts in the island nation have been further extended Wednesday morning to 10 hours, officials said.

The country has been facing a seven-hour power outage since the beginning of the month. “There is a shortage of 750 megawatt due to non-availability of fuel to generate thermal power,” the chair of the Public Utilities Commission Janaka Ratnayaka said.

State-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has asked motorists not to queue outside fuel stations on Wednesday and Thursday to purchase diesel as it was unable to pay for a shipment that had arrived. It was, however, not clear from where the shipment had arrived. The CPC said the unloading of the ship would happen only on Friday (April 1).

Energy minister Gamini Lokuge said the government will make an urgent purchase of 6,000 metric tonnes of diesel from LIOC, the Lanka subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation. “It will be used for emergency services and power generation,” he said. Lokuge said a shipment of diesel under the Indian credit line was expected Thursday.

India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous USD 500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products. During his just-concluded visit to Colombo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had assured India’s continued support in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery process.

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