India extends SL credit line by US$ 200M for fuel – Power Minister

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India has extended a credit line with Sri Lanka by US$ 200 million to procure emergency fuel stocks, the country’s Power and Energy Minister said on Monday, with four shipments due to arrive in May.

Colombo was also in talks with New Delhi over extending the credit line by an additional US$ 500 million, minister Kanchana Wijesekera told a news conference.

Hit hard by the pandemic and short of revenue after Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government imposed steep tax cuts, the Nation is now also critically short of foreign exchange and has approached the International Monetary Fund for an emergency bailout.

Rampant inflation and shortages of imported food, fuel and medicines has led to weeks of sporadically violent protests.

Sri Lanka has used US$ 400 million, on multiple shipments in April, of the US$ 500 million credit line extended by India earlier this year, Wijesekera said. Two fuel shipments will be paid for from the remaining funds in May.

“The Indian credit line was extended by US$ 200 million recently and this will be utilised for four shipments in May. Talks are continuing for a further US$ 500 million with India, so in total the credit line will be US$ 1.2 billion,” Wijesekera said.

However, Sri Lanka is still facing payment challenges for fuel imports with the State-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) owing US$ 235 million for shipments already received, while about US$ 500 million more will be needed to pay for Letters of Credit maturing over the next six weeks, he added.

Sri Lanka will also need dollars to pay for crude oil shipments to supplement imports from India.

“We have made procurement plans till June but we still need to resolve how to find sufficient amounts of foreign exchange to make payments,” Wijesekera said.

(Reuters)