Sri Lanka requires government employees to work from home due to lack of fuel

Sri Lanka is struggling to find foreign currency to pay for the fuel imports it desperately needs, and the existing stockpile of petrol and diesel is expected to run out in a few days.

Experts say that a combination of poor governance and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the country of 22 million people into the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

“Given the severe limits on fuel supply, the poor public transport system and the difficulty of using private vehicles, this circular allows staff to report for work from Monday,” the Ministry of Public Administration and Interior said on Friday.

Of the approximately one million government employees, employees who provide essential services, such as health care, will continue to report for work, the circular said.

Earlier this week, the government also approved a four-day work week for public sector employees to help them cope with a chronic fuel shortage and encourage them to grow food.

Huge queues of vehicles spanning several kilometers formed at many gas stations across the country this week, and people waited more than 10 hours for fuel.

The country is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, and a delegation is expected in Colombo on Monday.

The United Nations has announced a plan to raise $ 47 million to provide assistance to the 1.7 million Sri Lankans most affected by the crisis over the next four months.

Up to 5 million Sri Lankans could be directly affected by food shortages in the coming months, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office said on Friday.

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