Sri Lanka’s Parliament sessions curbed as fuel crisis bites

Sri Lanka, home to around 22 million people, is currently facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years

June 21, 2022 05:04 pm | Updated 05:04 pm IST - Colombo:

Sri Lankan Parliament’s leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena. File.

Sri Lankan Parliament’s leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena. File. | Photo Credit: AFP

Sri Lanka’s Parliament sessions will be restricted to two days this week instead of four days amid the current fuel supply crisis in the country, the leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena said on Tuesday.

The island nation, home to around 22 million people, is currently facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Sri Lanka's economy is experiencing extreme fuel shortages, soaring food prices and a lack of medicines.

“In view of the current fuel supplies crisis we have decided to limit the parliamentary sessions for today and tomorrow," Mr. Gunawardena announced.

Also read:Sri Lanka schools, govt. offices to shut as transport grinds to halt

When Parliament met this morning, the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party and the Marxist National People’s Power party said they were boycotting the sessions to protest the Government’s inaction to tackle the current economic crisis.

SJB leader Sajith Premadasa said since the government lacked a strategy to tackle the crisis there was little use in spending time in Parliament.

“We see no plan on the part of the government to solve the current economic and fuel shortages issue," Anura Kumara Dissanayake, NPP leader said.

He said the fuel queues have lengthened since the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed in mid-May.

At the start of today’s session Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene said the main opposition’s proposal on the 21st Amendment to the Constitution has been deemed to require a national referendum for most of its provisions which are inconsistent with the Constitution.

Also read:Explained | How will Sri Lanka overcome its debt crisis?

The Speaker was reading the determination he received from the Supreme Court.

Sri Lankan Cabinet on Monday approved the 21st Amendment to the Constitution aimed at empowering Parliament over the executive president.

The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A to the Constitution, which gives unfettered powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after abolishing the 19th Amendment that strengthened Parliament.

Also read:Understanding the sovereign debt crisis in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an economic programme that could be supported by the global lender’s lending arrangement for the country which is seeking to find $6 billion to keep it afloat for the next six months.

The IMF, however, has placed a number of conditions in order to agree to a bailout package.

The nearly bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced in April that it is suspending nearly $7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about $25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at $51 billion.

The crisis has forced Sri Lankans to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.