Sri Lanka’s parliament closed early after petrol ran out

Sri Lanka’s parliament has canceled its remaining sittings for the week to save fuel, officials said on Thursday, with a devastating economic crisis sharply depleting the island country’s already scarce petrol supplies.

A severe foreign exchange shortage has left importers unable to finance purchases of food, oil and medicines, while runaway inflation and regular blackouts have made life a misery for the South Asian country’s 22 million people.

Parliamentary officials said lawmakers decided not to hold sessions on Thursday and Friday to avoid unnecessary petrol use, days after authorities closed schools and some state offices for the same reason.

Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said a gasoline shipment due for Thursday had been delayed and urged motorists to cut travel.

“Only a limited quantity of petrol will be delivered to pumping stations today and tomorrow,” he told reporters in Colombo, with motorists already waiting in line for days to fill their tanks.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday that the country’s economy has reached the point of “complete collapse”.

“We are now facing a much more dire situation than the lack of fuel, gas, electricity and food,” Wickremesinghe told lawmakers.

Sri Lanka defaulted on $51 billion of its foreign debt in April and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout that could take months.

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