Sri Lanka President Asks Russia’s Putin to Help Import Fuel
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, global oil prices have skyrocketed, prompting some countries to seek imports of discounted Russian crude.
Russian oil has already been purchased by Sri Lanka.
In a tweet sent on Wednesday, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed that he had a “very productive” phone chat with the Russian leader during which he requested credit support.
On Wednesday, protesters gathered close to the parliament building in Colombo, the country’s capital, demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation. While food prices have almost quadrupled, inflation in June reached a record high of 54.6 percent.
The president’s request came two days after the energy minister, Kanchana Wijesekera, said that Sri Lanka had less than a day’s worth of petroleum remaining. On Tuesday 5th July 2022, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that Sri Lanka was “bankrupt”!
Sri Lanka’s foreign currency reserves have been exhausted after it defaulted on its debts for the first time in May.
Without foreign currency, Sri Lanka has struggled to import necessities owing to years of economic mismanagement and the COVID-19 crisis, which has resulted in significant shortages of petrol, food, and medication.
Sri Lankans have been queueing for gas for days and the government has encouraged working from home to save fuel. Western nations have largely cut off energy imports from Russia in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine. Since the invasion in late February, global oil prices have skyrocketed, prompting a number of countries like China and India to seek out Russian crude, which is being offered at steep discounts.
Due to this severe fuel scarcity brought on by Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the government was forced to close schools and request that everyone else work from home in order to reduce the use of scarce supplies.
The government said earlier that no entity is willing to supply oil to Sri Lanka even for cash because its petroleum corporation owes such a large debt.
Sri Lanka has already bought oil from Russia to tide it over during the crisis, and the government has indicated it is willing to make further purchases.
“We unanimously agreed that strengthening bilateral relations in sectors such as tourism, trade & culture was paramount in reinforcing the friendship our two nations share,” Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa also said he asked Putin to restart Russia’s national carrier, Aeroflot, operations in Sri Lanka.
The request was made as Sri Lankan Airlines prepared to postpone several flights owing to a fuel shortage, according to the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror. The airline is preparing backup plans, including importing jet fuel from India.
In order to increase the number of tourists from its populated northern neighbour India and to generate more foreign currency, Sri Lanka will also organise road shows in five Indian towns, according to the country’s tourism minister.
Known for its undulating hills, immaculate beaches, and relaxed coastal towns, Sri Lanka has experienced a steady stream of 61,951 Indian visitors in the first five months of this year, the highest of any foreign nation.
“Sri Lanka must have tourism revenue if it is to emerge from this crisis. That is essential,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told reporters.
Fernando expressed his hope that the nation would end the year with about one million tourists, up from less than 200,000 arrivals the previous year, despite the fact that some nations, such as the United Kingdom, have issued advisories urging citizens to limit their travel to Sri Lanka to what is absolutely necessary.
“We are confident the winter season will be good,” Fernando said.
Additionally, Sri Lanka is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to attempt to salvage its economy and with China, India, and Japan to create an aid consortium.
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