Sri Lanka Fuel Crisis: Sri Lankan government announces shut-down of government offices and schools from next week amid fuel crisis

Sri Lanka’s crisis-stricken government has announced that public sector offices will be closed from next week, starting Monday, due to severe fuel shortages as the island continues to reel from its worst economic crisis. The Sri Lankan Ministry of Education has also asked teachers in all government and government-approved private schools in Colombo’s city limits to start teaching online classes from next week due to extended power outages, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

With existing fuel supplies rapidly depleting, Sri Lanka is under intense pressure to make foreign exchange pay for imports, bringing several sectors of the country’s economy to a standstill.

As a result, spontaneous protests have been reported at gas stations across the country where consumers have waited for hours in long winding lines for fuel.

“Taking into account the severe restrictions on fuel supply, the weak public transport system and the difficulty of using private vehicles, this circular allows the minimum staff to report to work from Monday,” the Ministry of Public Administration and the Interior said in a statement. a circular issued on Friday. †

Healthcare workers will have to continue to report, the circular says.

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Education announced that all government and government-approved private schools in Colombo’s city limits would remain closed for the next week due to extended power outages, and asked teachers to provide online classes, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

Sri Lanka has been dealing with power outages of up to 13 hours a day in recent months.

Earlier this week, Sri Lanka’s tight-knit government approved several measures, including imposing a 2.5 percent social security tax on businesses based on their turnover and declaring Fridays public holidays for most public sector workers to facilitate economic recovery and reduce energy and food. crisis.

The cabinet also approved a proposal to grant government officials one week off from farming for the next three months to mitigate the impending food crisis.

On Friday, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said about four to five million of the country’s 22 million inhabitants could be directly affected by the food shortage.

The near-bankrupt country, with an acute currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced in April that it was suspending nearly $7 billion in foreign debt service for this year, of the roughly $25 billion owed through 2026.

Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.

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