The severe depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar and rising world crude oil prices following the ongoing conflict in Ukraine have been some of the reasons why the state-owned company has struggled to import fuel. “Approval has been given to all Private Bunker Fuel Operators to import and supply diesel and fuel oil needs from industries to operate their generators and machines,” Wijesekera said in a tweet.
“This will ease the burden on CPC and bulk service stations. The meeting took place yesterday,” he added.
In April, the Sri Lankan cabinet agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act and make provisions for licensing “duly identified parties” to import fuel, which will end an import monopoly of the CPC, according to the online business and political news portal EconomyNext.
The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday raised petrol prices by 24.3 percent and diesel by 38.4 percent, a record increase in fuel prices during the country’s worst economic crisis due to the shortage of foreign exchange reserves.
With the second fuel price hike since April 19, the most commonly used Octane 92 gasoline would now cost 420 rupees ($1.17) and diesel 400 rupees ($1.11) per liter, a record high.
The decision to raise the price of gasoline Octane 92 by 24.3 percent or 82 rupees and diesel by 38.4 percent or 111 rupees per liter was taken by the CPC.
Sri Lanka has also hired France-based financial and legal consultancies Lazard and Clifford Chance LLP to assist in debt restructuring as the country is on the brink of bankruptcy.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities, while power cuts and rising food prices have wreaked havoc on people.
On Thursday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met with the presidents and top management of all state and private banks in the country and briefed them on issues such as the dollar deficit and credit expansion, as well as the amount of savings, media reports said.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, which also sparked a political crisis.
The nearly bankrupt country, with an acute currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced last month that it is suspending repayment of nearly $7 billion for this year of the roughly $25 billion owed through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.
The financial crisis has led to an acute shortage of essential items such as food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper and even matches, with Sri Lankans being forced for months in rows of hours outside shops to buy fuel and cooking gas.
Protesters have been occupying the entrance to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office for nearly 50 days, demanding his resignation.
The brother of the president and former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned earlier this month after nationwide violence when his supporters attacked peaceful protesters.