Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, new prime minister says

Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, new prime minister says
Sri Lanka down to last day of petrol, new prime minister says

Sri Lanka’s new prime minister says the country is down to its last day of petrol as it faces its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years.

In a televised address, Ranil Wickremesinghe said the nation urgently needs $75m (£60.8m) of foreign currency in the next few days to pay for essential imports.

He said the central bank would have to print money to pay government wages.

Mr Wickremesinghe also said state-owned Sri Lankan Airlines may be privatised.

The island nation’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, rising energy prices, and populist tax cuts. A chronic shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation had led to a severe shortage of medicines, fuel and other essentials.

In recent weeks, there have been large, sometimes violent, protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family.

Last week, the president’s elder brother Mahinda resigned as prime minister after government supporters clashed with protesters. Nine people died and more than 300 were wounded in the violence.

On Friday, the new PM said that the economic crisis is “going to get worse before it gets better”.