Opposition Leader questions Government plans to overcome economic crisis

Sajith Premadasa at Parliament of Sri Lanka

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday questioned the Government if it had a plan to get the country out of the current economic crisis as well as deal with the implications of the war in Ukraine on Sri Lanka.

“Does the government accept that the country is in a serious crisis without fuel due to lack of foreign exchange? If so please tell the country and people the steps you expect to take without continuing your piecemeal tours (ada wela torus),” Premadasa queried while making a statement in Parliament.

He said the Government, which is unable to manage the country›s foreign exchange deficit, has now plunged the country into a serious energy crisis.

“In the past few months, people have had to wait in queues for hours on end to buy a domestic gas cylinder even while gas cylinders were exploding in the kitchen. Nowadays, people have to line up in front of petrol sheds to refuel their vehicles,” he said.

Premadasa said a large number of factory owners had called him and complained that factories have become inactive due to the non-operation of buses which are unable to transport employees working in those factories while there is no fuel today to operate the generators in those factories.

He pointed out that there has been no significant increase in the demand for electricity in Sri Lanka in recent times and the main reason for the power crisis is the inability to supply fuel required to generate 2700 MW per day.

Premadasa said the Governor of the Central Bank has issued a notification to the Commercial Banks to be mindful of credit limits in disbursing funds to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation further complicating the situation.

Premadasa said with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the price of a barrel of crude oil has crossed $ 100, and there is a risk that it will rise further.

“I would like to ask if this Government has a plan, what are the possible economic, social, political and diplomatic implications for our country in this emerging situation?” he queried.

The Opposition Leader said that according to the Tea Board, Sri Lanka tea exports to Ukraine last year amounted to 4.8 million kilograms.

“We exported 427.3 million kg to Russia – 1.49% of exports to Ukraine and 9.57% to Russia. A situation has been created where various countries have imposed sanctions on Russia. In this context, I would like to ask the Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila, in particular, whether this Government has a solution to the problem that has already become serious in our country.”

(Source: Daily FT)