Why can’t we solve the fuel problem the way Greece solved it?
The fuel crisis has had an extremely serious impact on people’s lives by now. Government employees are restricted from being summoned to offices. Schools are not held. Vegetable farmers have not been able to send their crops to economic centers. The tea industry is in a serious problem as it is not possible to send the tea leaves to the tea factories every day. Even the shelves of shops in distant areas away from Colombo are slowly becoming empty because the transportation of goods from Colombo is limited.
If we have to continue in this way, there is a possibility that many industries such as agriculture and businesses in the country will completely collapse. Hospitals may not even be able to transport the necessary medicines. The number of hours of daily power cut has increased so much that it is impossible to come to a point where the entire country will stop. Depending on the way things are developing, the day is not far when a pregnant mother who is about to give birth cannot find a vehicle to go to a hospital, and the patient cannot be taken to a hospital in case of an emergency snake bite.
It is true that several fuel ships are due to arrive in Sri Lanka this week. But it is also true that in the long term, there is no sign of a solution to this fuel crisis.
It is a well-known fact that this fuel crisis is caused by the lack of foreign exchange that we are facing as a country. Most of the country’s monthly import expenditure is allocated to the import of fuel.
What Greece did…
Greece, just like us, is a country that has faced a foreign exchange crisis before us. There they wanted to reduce their fuel demand by 50%. What they did was, they increased fuel prices by 50%. Accordingly, the price of a liter of petrol in Greece is 2.35 US dollars (857 rupees). A liter of diesel costs US$ 2.02 (Rs 737).
With the extra money received by the government through this price increase, they arranged to provide diesel at subsidized rates for public transport. Through that, they were able to reduce public transport fares by 10% compared to the amount before the arrival of the Covid epidemic situation.
Now there are no fuel queues in Greece. Relief has also been provided to the public due to the reduction in public transport fares. Also, foreign tourists are coming to Greece and foreign exchange inflows are also increasing.
It is stated that through the above program they have been able to reduce fuel demand by 43%.
Why can’t SL do that?
Considering the situation in Sri Lanka, according to the current monthly income, we have enough money to bring fuel for about 15 days. Accordingly, we also have to reduce fuel demand by 50%. We will also be able to reverse this situation when the country starts receiving foreign exchange income through the tourism industry.
But the question is why the authorities do not directly announce this situation to the people and go to a solution like Greece.