Sri Lankan President asks Putin to assist in buying fuel

Sri Lankan President asks Putin to assist in buying fuel

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for assistance in purchasing fuel for the island nation, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948.

Rajapaksa said on Twitter on Wednesday:  “Had a very productive telecon with the Russia President, Vladimir Putin. While thanking him for all the support extended by his government to overcome the challenges of the past, I requested an offer of credit support to import fuel to (Sri Lanka) in defeating the current economic challenges.”

In his tweet, the President also requested that Russian flag carrier Aeroflot resume operations in Sri Lanka after the airline suspended flights to the island nation last month.

“We unanimously agreed that strengthening bilateral relations in sectors such as tourism, trade and culture was paramount in reinforcing the friendship our two nations share,” he added.

Rajapaksa’s plea for assistance comes after Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera issued a stark warning on Sunday, claiming that the country only had enough petrol to last less than a day under normal demand.

According to the BBC, authorities suspended sales of petrol and diesel for non-essential vehicles last week in an attempt to preserve its dwindling fuel stocks.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka raised its key interest rates by one percentage point on Thursday in an effort to combat the country’s rising cost of living.

The lending rate was raised to 15.5%, while the deposit rate was raised to 14.5%, the highest level in 21 years.

It comes as annual inflation reached a record high of 54.6 percent in June, as food prices rose by more than 80% amid the crisis.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the Parliament building in Colombo on Wednesday to launch their “final push” to depose Rajapaksa’s government.

Due to economic mismanagement and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the island nation of 22 million people has seen its foreign exchange reserves dwindle.

As a result, it has struggled to pay for essential imports such as fuel, food, and medicine.

It went into debt default for the first time in its history in May, when a 30-day grace period to pay $78 million in unpaid debt interest payments expired.

The country is currently negotiating a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Sri Lanka’s government has stated that it requires $5 billion in international assistance this year, including from the IMF.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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