Colombo: Protests in Sri Lanka have been escalating. Protesters have blocked many roads to protest against the skyrocketing price of fuel and other essential commodities in the country. The country has seen its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
Amidst the protest, Sri Lanka has received $160 million from the World Bank and is looking at the possibility of using some of it to buy fuel, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on May 18.
“160 million dollar grant has been received from the World Bank, and a grant from the ADB (Asian Development Bank) is also expected, PM Wickremesinghe said.
He said the money received from the World Bank could not be used to buy fuel.
“We are trying to see if we can use some of it for fuel purchases,” he said.
In his address to the nation on Monday, Mr. Wickremesinghe said that two more petrol shipments under the Indian credit line were due this week and by May 29.
A long queue could be seen around every fuel station, and people have to wait long hours for their turn to buy fuel.
Kanchana Wijesekera, the energy minister, said there was no petrol in stock and it would only be by the weekend that petrol would be available at pumping stations.
“We do not have the dollars to get a petrol shipment released and we only have very little petrol stock for essential service.” We are sorry for that. Please do not wait in queues. It will take another three days for distribution, “Mr. Wijesekera told Parliament.
Mr. Wijesekera said $53 million for a petroleum shipment that was delivered in January had not been paid since the end of March.
The energy minister further added that cooking gas unloading was hindered by prevailing bad weather due to the monsoon rains.
The economic crisis has led to a political crisis in Sri Lanka as people are blaming the government for the economic upheaval. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation as prime minister makes way for Wickremesinghe as the new prime minister.
The aid seems not to help the country a lot the suffering of people won’t over soon.