‘Last day of petrol’, newly-elected PM of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
'Last day of petrol', newly-elected PM of Sri Lanka. Source BBC.com

Columbo: As the country suffers its worse economic crisis in more than 70 years, the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka claims that the country is down to its last day of petrol.

Ranil Wickremesinghe stated in a televised address that the country urgently requires $75 million (£60.8 million) in foreign currency to pay for crucial imports in the coming days.

To pay government salaries, he warned, the central bank would have to generate money.

Mr Wickremesinghe also hinted at the possibility of privatising state-owned Sri Lankan Airlines.

The pandemic, soaring energy prices, and populist tax cuts have all hurt the island nation’s economy. A significant shortage of medications, fuel, and other essentials has resulted from a persistent lack of foreign cash and rising inflation.

Auto rickshaws, the city’s most popular mode of transportation, and other vehicles have been queuing at petrol stations in Colombo.

“We only have enough petrol for one day at the present. The next few months will be the most challenging of our lives, “Mr Wickremesinghe, who took office as Prime Minister on Thursday, stated.

Read: Crisis-hit Sri Lanka appoints new PM to replace president’s brother

However, he noted that imports of gasoline and diesel using a credit line with India might provide fuel supplies in the coming days.

Mr Wickremesinghe stated that the country’s central bank would have to generate money for the government to satisfy its salary bill and other obligations.

As part of his efforts to stabilise the country’s finances, he advocated selling out Sri Lankan Airlines. In the fiscal year ended March 2021, the airline lost 45 billion rupees ($129.5 million; £105 million).

Protest against President, former PM

There have been significant, occasionally violent rallies against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family in recent weeks.

Following clashes between government supporters and demonstrators, the president’s elder brother Mahinda quit as prime minister last week. The violence resulted in nine deaths and more than 300 injuries.

Read: Sri Lankan economic crisis and currency management | By Dr Atiq-ur-Rehman

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