Several public offices and schools in Sri Lanka remained closed on Friday on account of a holiday declared by the government to cope with an acute fuel shortage in the country, Bloomberg reported.
Sri Lanka is battling with its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948.
Authorities had on Monday declared Friday as a holiday for state officials, according to the BBC. The government said it took the decision to help citizens who were finding it difficult to go to work due to fuel shortage. Another reason cited for the extra holiday was to allow workers to grow fruits and vegetables themselves.
As per the decision, public sector employees will get a day off every Friday for the next three months.
On Thursday, the education ministry also declared June 17 as a holiday for government and government-approved private schools.
On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that the country’s fuel stocks will only last for five more days, Reuters reported.
Thousands of citizens on Friday lined up for several kilometres at fuel stations to buy petrol and diesel.
On May 16, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had warned that the country had run out of petrol and said that the residents could face more hardships in the coming months. He had also warned that residents could suffer power outages for as long as 15 hours a day.
On May 24, the government raised petrol and diesel prices to all-time highs of Rs 420 (90.50 Indian rupees) a litre and Rs 400 (86.19 Indian rupees) per litre respectively.
Ever since Sri Lanka has been hit with the economic crisis, it has depended on India for fuel, medicine and food items. India has already extended over $3 billion to the cash-strapped country through currency swaps, credit lines for essentials and loan deferments.
On April 12, Sri Lanka said that it would default on its entire external debt worth $51 billion (over Rs 3.88 lakh crore) till it receives a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. A country’s external debt pertains to the money borrowed by it from foreign lenders through commercial banks, governments, or international financial institutions.