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No money to buy petrol, says Lankan govt

Colombo: Crisis-hit Sri Lanka on Wednesday revealed that it does not have foreign exchange to pay for a vessel of petrol anchored in its waters for nearly two months as it appealed to citizens "not to wait in line" for fuel.

However, the country has received sufficient stocks of diesel, the government said.

Since March 28, a vessel with petrol has been anchored in Sri Lankan waters, power and energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera told Parliament, confirming that the country is facing an issue of petrol availability, online portal newsfirst.lk reported.

"We do not have US dollars to make the payment for the vessel with petrol," he said, adding that another $53 million is due for the same vessel for a previous shipment in January 2022.

The minister said the shipping company concerned has refused to release the vessel until both the payments are settled.

Wijesekera said following an assurance from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to make the previous payment, the company had agreed to release the current vessel after the due payment is made.

However, "we are yet to source the fund for this purpose," he said, adding that the ministry is working towards releasing the vessel either on Wednesday or Thursday.

"This is why we requested the people not

to wait in line for fuel. There is no issue with diesel. But, please do not stay in line for

petrol. We have limited stocks of petrol and

are trying to distribute it accordingly for essential services, especially ambulances," the minister said.

"We apologise for this. We understand that three-wheelers can only operate with the daily fuel purchases. We appeal to the public not to remain in line for fuel on Wednesday and Thursday," he said.

The minister also appealed to the people to stop stockpiling fuel, as there is no way of delivering petrol for the next two days.

Wijesekera said it would take another three days from Friday to complete the distribution of petrol to all filling stations.

Of the 67 proposals made to the ministry on fuel purchases, 39 were identified as practically applicable in Sri Lanka, he said, adding that no matter what proposal is made; the country cannot import petrol without opening the letter of credit.

A letter of credit, also known as a documentary credit or bankers' commercial credit, or letter of undertaking, is a payment mechanism used in international trade to provide an economic guarantee from a creditworthy bank to an exporter of goods.A

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