CHENNAI: Sri Lanka will allow companies from oil-producing countries to import and sell fuel, the Power and Energy Minister said on Tuesday, ending a duopoly as it tries to overcome a shortage of petrol and diesel that is exacerbating an economic crisis.
Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since its independence, with foreign exchange reserves at a record low of $1.92 billion, according to the Central Bank, though analysts estimate a lower level of useable funds.
The island nation of 22 million people is struggling to pay for essential imports of food, medicine and, most critically, fuel.
The state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) controls about 80 percent of the fuel market and Lanka IOC, a unit of Indian Oil Corporation, the rest.
The Cabinet decision came as the minister, Kanchana Wijesekera, headed to Qatar and a colleague was due to arrive in Russia on Sunday for talks on energy deals with officials there. The Cabinet also allowed bunkering companies already registered with the government to import jet fuel.
The government closed urban schools for about two weeks from Tuesday and allowed fuel supplies only to services deemed necessary like health, trains and buses.