PM Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka is unable to purchase imported fuel, even for cash, due to heavy debt owed by its petroleum corporation.

Sri Lanka’s debt-laden economy has “collapsed” after months of shortages of food, fuel and electricity, its prime minister told lawmakers Wednesday, in comments underscoring the country’s dire situation as it seeks help from international lenders, reports AP.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament the South Asian country is “facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food. Our economy has completely collapsed.”

While Sri Lanka’s crisis is considered its worst in recent memory, Wickremesinghe’s assertion that the economy has collapsed did not cite any specific new developments. It appeared intended to emphasize to his critics and opposition lawmakers that he has inherited a difficult task that can’t be fixed quickly, as the economy founders under the weight of heavy debts, lost tourism revenue and other impacts from the pandemic, as well as surging costs for commodities.

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