Sri Lanka fuel crisis: 2-week 'work from home' for employees
The Sri Lanka government on Friday declared work from home (WFH) for its government employees for the next two weeks as the island nation is grappling with an acute fuel shortage amid the worst financial crisis it has seen since its independence in 1948. Only those employees involved in essential services will continue to report to the office in the two weeks starting Monday.
- After taking over as prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe had said in May that his government was focusing on steps for the agriculture, private, and banking sectors.
- He had said he was meeting with key stakeholders of these sectors and discussing steps to bring the country out of the ongoing crisis.
- He added the country is working toward reducing the impact of the economic crisis.
A circular issued by Lanka's Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry said, "Taking into consideration the severe limits on fuel supply, the weak public transport system, and the difficulty in using private vehicles this circular allows minimal staff to report to work from Monday." However, ministry secretaries and heads of state departments can decide on the minimum number of staff to ensure uninterrupted services.
Sri Lanka is in desperate need of foreign exchange to import fuel as the existing stock will only last a few days now. This has prompted the government to take this extreme measure. Earlier, it had approved a four-day work week for its employees. Lankans are queuing up in large numbers outside gas stations with some waiting for up to 10 hours for fuel.
Sri Lanka is depending on India for fuel supply and the final shipment of 44,000 metric tons of diesel under the Indian line of credit reached Colombo on Thursday. Since January, India has given Sri Lanka more than $3.5 billion in financial assistance.
The island nation is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package. The United Nations has also planned to raise $47 million over the next four months to assist Sri Lankans who are demanding petrol, diesel, and kerosene for cooking and fisheries activities. While trains and buses run at total capacity, private vehicle owners spend hours at fuel stations.