AP

With no fuel and no cash, Sri Lanka keeps schools closed

Jul 3, 2022, 7:33 AM | Updated: Jul 4, 2022, 6:17 am

FILE- People wait to buy fuel at a fuel station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 27, 2022. Cash-strapped...

FILE- People wait to buy fuel at a fuel station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 27, 2022. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka on Sunday announced closing schools for one week and appealed to the country’s expatriates to send money home through the banks to pay for new oil purchases amid a worsening shortage of fuel. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Cash-strapped Sri Lanka on Sunday extended school closures for one week because there isn’t enough fuel for teachers and parents to get children to classrooms, and the energy minister appealed to the country’s expatriates to send money home through banks to finance new oil purchases.

A huge foreign debt has left the Indian Ocean island with none of the suppliers willing to sell fuel on credit. The available stocks, sufficient for only several days, will be provided for essential services, including health and port workers, public transport and food distribution, officials said.

“Finding money is a challenge. It’s a huge challenge,” Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told reporters.

He said the government has ordered new fuel stocks and the first ship with 40,000 metric tons of diesel is expected to arrive on Friday while the first ship carrying gasoline would come on July 22.

Several other fuel shipments are in the pipeline. But he said authorities are struggling to find $587 million to pay for the fuel. Wijesekera said that Sri Lanka owed about $800 million to seven fuel suppliers.

Last month, schools were closed nationwide for a day due to fuel shortages and had remained closed for the last two weeks in urban areas. Schools will remain shut until Friday.

Authorities also announced countrywide power cuts of up to three hours a day from Monday because they can’t supply enough fuel to power generating stations. Sweeping power cuts have been a blight on Sri Lanka’s economy for months, along with severe shortages of essentials including cooking gas, medicine and food imports.

Wijesekera said the main problem is the lack of dollars and appealed to some 2 million Sri Lankans working abroad to send their foreign exchange earnings home through banks instead of informal channels.

He said workers’ remittances, which usually stood at $600 million per month, had declined to $318 million in June.

According to the Central Bank, the remittances — the nation’s main foreign exchange earner — dropped from $2.8 billion in the first six months of 2021 to $1.3 billion in the same period this year for a decline of 53%.

The drop came after the government last year ordered the mandatory conversion of foreign currency. It said that black-market premiums have led people to hoard foreign currency.

Sri Lanka’s has been getting most of its fuel needs from neighboring India, which provided it with a credit line. The government said it was also negotiating with suppliers in Russia and Malaysia.

Sri Lanka has suspended repayment of about $7 billion in foreign loans due this year out of $25 billion to be repaid by 2026. The country’s total foreign debt is $51 billion.

The economic meltdown has triggered a political crisis with widespread anti-government protests erupting across the country. Protesters have blocked main roads to demand gas and fuel, and television stations showed people in some areas fighting over limited stocks.

In the capital, Colombo, protesters have been occupying the entrance to the president’s office for more than two months to demand President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation. They accuse him and his powerful family that included several siblings holding top government positions of plunging the country into the crisis through corruption and misrule.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

1 day ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

3 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

7 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

8 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

11 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

With no fuel and no cash, Sri Lanka keeps schools closed