COLOMBO, July 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka canvassed oil
companies in petroleum-producing nations on Tuesday to import
and sell their products in the Indian Ocean island, opening its
market to resolve acute shortages of fuel during its worst
economic crisis in decades.
Depleted foreign exchange reserves have left the nation of
22 million unable to pay for imports of essential items from
fuel to food and medicines.
"An advertisement was published today calling for expression
of interest (EOI) for oil companies to import, distribute and
sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka," Kanchana Wijesekera, the
power and energy minister, said https://twitter.com/kanchana_wij/status/1551787385976938502
The news follows Sri Lanka's decision last month to allow
such imports and sales, as it scrambles to ensure sufficient
supplies of petrol and diesel.
The approvals for oil firms to be picked in the new process
will effectively end a market duopoly involving a subsidiary of
India's state-run Indian Oil Corp.
State-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC), which controls about
80% of the market with a national network of 1,190 fuel
stations, will give a share of its resources and pumps to the
new entrants, the government said in its notice.
Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis since independence from
Britain in 1948 has its roots in economic mismanagement and the
fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on a tourism-dependent economy.
Protesters angry about the shortages toppled the Rajapaksa
ruling family, ushering in a new government after forcing the
resignation this month of the previous president, Gotabaya
Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore.
As many as rights groups have asked Singapore's attorney
general to investigate Rajapaksa for his role in Sri Lanka's
decades-long civil war.
"Now that Rajapaksa is no longer shielded by immunity,
Singapore must seize this remarkable opportunity," said Archana
Ravichandradeva, of the group People for Equality in Relief in
It is one of the groups that sent a joint letter to the
Singapore official on , following a request last week by another
rights group seeking a similar investigation.
Rajapaksa has previously denied accusations that he was
responsible for rights abuses during the war.
Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war between separatist insurgents
from the ethnic Tamil minority and government forces ended in
2009. Rights groups accused both sides of abuses during the war.
The first Sri Lankan president to resign from the job,
Rajapaksa could return to the country, cabinet spokesman Bandula
Gunewardena told reporters on Tuesday.
"It is my belief he may eventually consider returning to Sri
Lanka," Gunewardena said. "If he returns he will be treated in
accordance with his status as a former president."
(Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal and Krishna N. Das; Editing by