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Lanka needs US$1,285mn for three months of oil, US$500mn from India: Minister

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka needs 1,285 million US dollar for oil imports in the next three months, of which 500 million will come from an Indian credit line, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said, as the country grappled with forex shortages and global prices went up.

“For the next three months we have forecasted 1,285.5 million US dollars for oil imports,” Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said.

“We hope to get 500 million dollars from the credit line from India. We are talking to others we will tell parliament when we finalize them.”

The 500 million dollar credit line to be activated in April is a one year facility at 2.5 percent.

India this month gave consignment of diesel on an appeal by Sri Lanka ahead of the credit line being used officially.

He said oil prices were around 40 to 45 US dollars a barrel in 2020, about 55 to 65 in 2021 are around 90 to 100 million dollars in 2022 so far with Russian invasion of Ukraine pushing prices up, he said.

Brent crude had moved up to 101.40 dollars as he spoke.

As of February 24, Sri Lanka had following stocks of fuel:

Petrol 92 – for 10 days

Petrol 95 -for 40 days

Lanka Auto Diesel 08 days

Super Diesel – 8 days

From a ship that is now being unloaded 5000 metric tonnes of diesel would be given to the Ceylon Electricity Board and 4,200 MT to the Sojitz power plant, which would be enough to run it for six days, he said.

“Some stocks are also coming in the future,” he said.

Each week two to three ship come based on the projected fuel needs of the country, based on which tenders have been floated. However unloading of tankers have been delayed due to forex shortages.

Sri Lanka usually has stocks for 15 to 21 days before the forex crisis, Energy Ministry Secretary K D Olga has said.

Sri Lanka has been struggling to find foreign exchange to pay for oil with liquidity injections being made to keep interest rates down after giving reserves for imports.

When foreign reserves of a pegged central bank (which are savings) are given for imports, an equivalent fall in rupee reserves must take place in commercial banks to keep the economy in balance.

However in a pegged central bank with a policy rates, money is printed an re-inserted to banking system (sterilized reserve sale) preventing a correction in credit, the balance of payments and driving imports and economic activity to an unsustainable level.

Sri Lanka is now trying to get credit lines for fuel, instead of market pricing and offsetting domestic consumption and non-oil imports.

Credit lines (domestic consumption financed by foreign borrowings) will further widen the external current account deficit and national debt.

The Mercantilists who print money or finances budget deficits with foreign borrowings and state enterprises with credit lines then jump up and say there is a current account deficit or a ‘twin deficit’ in a country where private citizens are net savers.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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