COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s largest private fuel retailer hiked diesel prices more than 40 per cent yesterday, compounding the hardship for ordinary people in the country’s worst economic crisis since independence.
The island nation’s 22 million people have already been reeling from weeks of shortages that have crippled public transport and caused long queues for petrol, food and medicine.
The cause has been a wide-ranging import ban as the government tries to stop the outflow of dollars in order to pay off debt after the pandemic torpedoed the vital tourism sector.
In its third hike in two months, Lanka IOC raised diesel to LKR252 (USD1.00) a litre from LKR177 while high octane gasoline was up LKR50 to LKR283 (USD1.08).
Official figures show that diesel prices have risen 78.2 per cent while gasoline is up 43.5 per cent since February 6. Most of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) pumps have been out of fuel. The few that were open saw long queues yesterday.
The central bank on Monday announced “greater flexibility” in the exchange rate after depreciating the currency by 15 per cent. Since Monday, the rupee has lost about a quarter of its value against the dollar.
Official sources said yesterday’s fuel price increase reflected the weaker rupee.