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Fuel Sales Suspended For Two Weeks In Sri Lanka As Economic Crisis Deepens

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Reeling under its worst economic crisis, Sri Lanka on Monday halted sale of fuel except for essential services. As it has run out of supplies, the country appealed to the private sector to let employees work from home.

“From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have,” government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana said.

Apologising to the consumers for the shortages, he said, “We regret the inconvenience caused to the people.”

The economic crisis the island nation is facing is the worst since gaining independence in 1948 with the situation so bad that it has been unable to pay for even the most essential products, such as fuel, food and medicines since late last year.

Faced with high inflation coupled with lengthy power blackouts, the country saw widespread violent protests leading to President stepping down.

Since last week, all government schools have shut down and state institutions are functioning with skeletal staff due to the country not having dollars to finance imports. Despite the state shutdown meant to be ending this week, it has now been extended to July 10. Gunawardana has promised to soon restore fuel supplies. And the government is appealing to the private sector too to accept the situation and try to work a way out.

According to the Hindu, the unexpected announcement comes a day after Colombo had said that it will implement a token system to ration distribution of limited fuel stocks. Fuel stations that still have precious stocks are seeing huge lines outside their outlets.

Earlier, the UN had launched a massive programme to feed thousands of pregnant women in the country who are facing food shortages. The UN has warned of a looming “dire humanitarian crisis” as four out of five Sri Lankans are skipping meals due to inability to afford food and millions are in need of aid.

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