Crisis Hit Sri Lanka Pursues Foreign Oil Firms

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On Tuesday, Sri Lanka approached oil businesses in countries that produce oil to import and sell their products into the island nation in the Indian Ocean, opening its market to address severe fuel shortages during its worst economic crisis in decades.
The 22 million-person country’s depleted foreign exchange reserves have rendered it unable to pay for imports of necessities like fuel, food, and medication.

The power and energy minister, Kanchana Wijesekera, posted on Twitter, “An advertising was released today looking for expression of interest (EOI) for oil businesses to import, distribute, and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka.”

The announcement comes after Sri Lanka decided to permit such imports and sales last month in an effort to assure adequate supply of gasoline and diesel.

A market duopoly involving a subsidiary of India’s state-run Indian Oil Corp. will be effectively ended by the approvals for the oil businesses to be chosen in the new procedure.

The government stated in its notice that the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC), which has a national network of 1,190 gas stations and approximately 80% market dominance, will share some of its resources and pumps with the new competitors.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on a tourism-dependent economy and economic mismanagement are the main causes of Sri Lanka’s biggest economic crisis since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948.

The Rajapaksa ruling family was overthrown by protesters upset about the shortages, ushering in a new administration after forcing the resignation of the last president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore this month.

Up to 18 rights organisations have requested that the attorney general of Singapore look into Rajapaksa’s involvement in the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka.

Archana Ravichandradeva of the organisation People for Equality in Relief in Lanka declared, “Singapore must seize this unique opportunity now that Rajapaksa is no longer protected by immunity.”

It is one of the organisations that, in response to a request for a comparable probe made by another rights organisation last week, issued a combined letter to the Singaporean official on Tuesday.

Rajapaksa has repeatedly refuted claims that he committed rights violations during the conflict.

2009 marked the end of Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil conflict between government forces and separatist rebels from the ethnic Tamil minority. Both sides were accused of violations during the conflict by rights organisations.

Rajapaksa, the first president of Sri Lanka to resign from office, may come back, the cabinet’s spokesman Bandula Gunewardena told reporters on Tuesday.

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He might eventually think about going back to Sri Lanka, in my opinion,” Gunewardena said. “If he returns, he will be considered as a former president,” the statement reads.

In an effort to assure sufficient supplies of gasoline and diesel, Sri Lanka opted to permit such imports and sales.

The selection of the oil companies will effectively put an end to a market duopoly involving a subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation, a state-run company in India.

According to Reuters, the government announced in its notice that the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC), which has a national network of 1,190 gas stations and controls around 80% of the market, will share some of its resources and pumps with the new competitors.

After forcing the resignation of the previous president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore this month, enraged demonstrators in Sri Lanka overthrew the Rajapaksa ruling family and installed a new one. Archana Ravichandradeva of the organisation People for Equality in Relief in Lanka declared, “Singapore must seize this unique opportunity now that Rajapaksa is no longer protected by immunity.”

It is one of the organisations that, on Tuesday, wrote a letter in unison to the Singaporean official in response to a request made by another rights organisation last week for a similar investigation into Rajapaksa.

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