Hinting that long fuel queues will continue for the rest of the year, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (14) said, only 50 per cent of the total demand for fuel would be distributed for the next five months, after prioritising electricity generation, hospitals, and other essential services.
In a special statement, Wickremesinghe said fuel shipments have been secured for this month and the next month at present.
“A 40,000 MT shipment of fuel will arrive tomorrow (16). It will be enough for the next two weeks. After obtaining a new US$ 500 million Indian credit line, fuel shipments for the four months after July will be secured. However, the fuel will be distributed for 50 per cent of the total demand. That too would be after providing fuel for electricity generation and other essential services,” the Premier said.
He said when seeking USD to purchase fuel, Bank of Ceylon (BOC) did not even have enough LKR. “It was after this that I obtained Cabinet approval to print money,” he added.
Speaking about the present domestic gas shortage, Wickremesinghe said a ship carrying 3,500 MT of gas has arrived and it will be distributed, prioritising essential services such as hotels, hospitals, and crematoriums. The next shipments which are due to arrive in July will be enough for four months. However, discussions are underway to possibly secure a gas shipment before July, he said.
Further, the Premier said representatives of heavyweight financial and legal advisers Lazard and Clifford Chance arrived in the country yesterday (14) to provide advice on the difficult task of debt restructuring.
“We have begun discussions with Japan to fix our broken diplomatic ties following my personal intervention. Our Ambassador in Japan has met the Japanese Foreign Minister and conveyed our desire to fix broken ties between the two nations. Several countries including the USA and China have expressed their willingness to assist us. We hope to initiate discussions with Russia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. The international community is ready to assist us. We need a proper plan to present them,” Wickremesinghe said.
By Methmalie Dissanayake