Image Caption – Minister Gammanpila at the meeting with Ambassador Al Naqbi
The Government is looking into the possibility of importing crude oil and mineral oil products from the UAE under a long-term loan base, as a solution to the foreign exchange crisis Sri Lanka is facing.
This was brought up at a meeting held yesterday (23) between Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila and UAE Diplomatic Mission to Sri Lanka Acting Head Saif Yousif Al Naqbi.
Gammanpila had earlier urged the Sri Lankan public, via a post on his Twitter account, to use fuel sparingly to help save foreign exchange, adding that fuel constituted 18% of the total import bill of the first half (H1) of the year 2021, and that it would be increased to 25% of total import expenses during the upcoming second half (H2) of the year.
Meanwhile, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Secretary Ananda Palitha had recently alleged that Sri Lanka’s diesel stocks were running low, for which he was arrested on charges of spreading false information and attempting to incite panic, and subsequently released on bail.
Subsequent to Palitha’s statement, Gammanpila shared on Twitter: “I have repeatedly stated that if there was a fuel shortage, I would have told the nation before anybody else. I have always been truthful to the people and informed in advance about the price hike. (I was) the first to announce about the foreign currency crisis.”
Gammanpila had also later told the media that there was “no oil problem, only a dollar problem”.
Sri Lanka’s imports of crude oil from the UAE amounted to $ 404.84 million in 2020, according to the UN Comtrade database on international trade. Sri Lanka has imposed strict restrictions on imports since the onset of the pandemic in mid-2020, in a bid to prevent the outflow of foreign exchange, although the country’s gross official foreign reserves stood at $ 4.83 billion as of July 2021 after recent debt repayments.
Ministry of Energy Secretary K.D.R. Olga, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Sumith Wijesinghe, and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Deputy General Manager Mahendra Garusinghe were present at the meeting. The Morning