India will give Sri Lanka an additional $500 million in financial assistance to buy fuel, the troubled island nation's foreign minister told reporters, adding that Bangladesh was also willing to postpone $450 million in swap repayments to ease Colombo's burden.
"Assistance by the IMF will take about six months to come to us and it will come in tranches," Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris was quoted by Reuters. "During the intervening period, we need to find funds to keep our people supplied with essentials."
This will be the second $500 million India has provided in fuel credit to a Sri Lanka government battling the country's worst financial crisis in living memory. The first line of credit was used up earlier this month after a shipment of 120,000 tons of diesel and 40,000 tons of petrol.
So far India has provided nearly 400,000 tons of fuel. Massive protests broke out after fuel reserves ran low. Thousands of angry motorists burned tyres and blocked a major road leading into capital Colombo, news agency AFP reported citing police and local officials.
The protests came after the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation raised the price of 92 octane to LKR 338 per litre - an increase of LKR 84, PTI reported. That was the CPC's second price hike this month. The Lankan Indian oil company hiked its prices for a fifth time in six months.
India, meanwhile, has also extended two credit lines worth over $2 billion to help buy food - rice has already been sent - medicines and other essentials.
India urged the IMF, or International Monetary Fund, to urgently provide financial assistance to Sri Lanka. This was as finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman met IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on the margins of the IMF-World Bank spring meeting in the US.