Sri Lanka in talks with Russia for fuel supply

People wait in a queue to buy petrol at a fuel station, amid the country's economic crisis in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 16 May, 2022.Reuters file photo

Sri Lanka's power and energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera on Saturday said that his government is in discussion with Russia for the purchase of fuel amid the raging energy crisis in the country.

Addressing a press conference here, Wijesekera lauded the Indian government for giving a credit line for purchasing fuel as the economic crisis continues to affect over 20 million Sri Lankans.

"We have made requests (for fuel) to different countries. So, any country that comes to help us, we appreciate that. Right now, the Indian government is the only country that has provided us with a credit line," said Wijesekera.

"We are in discussion with the Russian Government as well...The initial meetings have taken place in Russia. We have given our requirements and we are working on it. We are waiting to hear what sort of facility will be accommodated to Sri Lanka," he added.

Wijesekara today introduced a fuel rationing scheme titled the "National Fuel Pass" scheme.

The new pass will guarantee the allocation of fuel quota on a weekly basis. A QR code will be given for each National Identity Card number (NIC), once the Vehicle Identification Number and other details are verified.

People with registered vehicles will get their turns based on the last digit of their registration number. Amid the on-going fuel crisis, tourists and foreigners will be given priority to take fuel in Colombo.

The island nation has been reeling under a major economic crisis that has created acute shortages of food, fuel, medical supplies, and left the country teetering on the edge of economic ruin, having entered discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over an emergency bailout.

The UN mission in Sri Lanka has urged senior politicians to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in line with the national Constitution, following weeks of protests that finally saw the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday.

"The United Nations in Sri Lanka urges all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful transition of power in full respect for the Constitution," said United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Hanaa Singer, in a statement issued on Friday on behalf of the UN in Sri Lanka.

She said it was "imperative that the transition of power is accompanied by broad and inclusive consultation within and outside parliament".

This statement comes as Rajapaksa offered his resignation after fleeing the country and arriving in Singapore, having first flown to the Maldives on Wednesday after tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital Colombo earlier in the week.