COLOMBO: As Sri Lanka's fuel reserves are falling out with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) failing to import the required jet fuel, the country's bunker licence holders agreed to import and supply jet fuel on an immediate basis.
During the meeting with the bunker licence holders, orts, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on Tuesday assured that they are legally cleared to import and supply jet fuel for the short term (next three months), without legislative amendments, to end CPC's monopoly on jet fuel supply, Daily Mirror Online reported.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a joint proposal to allow the importation, supply and sale of Jet A-1 aviation fuel to the bunker holders registered with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), in order to sustain the aviation services.
The Attorney General's clearance has also been received for the Cabinet paper. The minister noted that the Cabinet approval, which can be interpreted as a government policy decision, grants the bunker licence holders with the required legal clearance to engage in the jet fuel trade in the short term.
Despite the immediate approval to import and supply jet fuel, it's likely to take another 10-12 days for the bunker licence holders to bring in the first jet fuel shipment to the country, reported Daily Mirror Online.
According to Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Private) Limited, the current jet fuel reserves have fallen to the minimum point and it had compelled the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to issue a notice advising airlines to carry fuel for their return journeys from Tuesday onwards.
Notably, Sri Lanka has been facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, leading to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the island nation.
The nearly-bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt.
The economic crisis has particularly impacted food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and access to health services. Food production in the last harvest season was 40 - 50 per cent lower than last year, and the current agricultural season is at risk, with seeds, fertilizers, fuel and credit shortages.
Sri Lanka is one of the few nations named by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is expected to go without food due to the global food shortage expected this year.