Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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SL Government seeks US $ 6 billion Saudi credit line to import fuel

The Government will be seeking Saudi government assistance to ease the fuel shortage thereby tackling the present energy crisis effectively, Energy Ministry sources disclosed.

Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed, in his capacity as the president’s envoy to Saudi Arabia, has initiated discussions with the Saudi government last week seeking for a five year credit line of US $ 6 billion for the importation of fuel from the Gulf.

This fuel procurement will be on a government to government basis, as a long-term solution to Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis,a senior official of the ministry said.

Minister Naseer Ahamed also proposed Saudi investments in Sri Lanka for manufacturing agricultural fertilizer, constructing petroleum storage facilities, establishing fuel supply stations, modernizing and expanding the refinery, opportunities in mining minerals and promoting renewable energy.

During the meeting with Saudi Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Al Khuraiji in Riyadh last week, Minister Ahamed conveyed the interest of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to invite the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Sri Lanka at his convenience.

A possible visit of President Wickremesinghe to Riyadh prior to the Saudi ruler’s visit to Sri Lanka has also come up in the discussions, the sources said.

At the meeting with Eng. Mansour bin Hilal Al Mushaiti, Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Minister Ahamed referred to the role of coco-peat in the 10 million trees project of the Saudi Green Initiative and the possibilities of the Saudi Ministry investing in a coco-peat venture in Sri Lanka.

The Ministers followed up with a visit to the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) which produces fertilisers, industrial polymers, triple phosphate fertilisers and petrochemicals. ‘SABIC’ had responded its readiness to supply Sri Lanka’s requirements on a government to government basis or to the private sector.

The Sri Lankan Minister also called on the Saudi Development Fund. Its CEO Dr Sultan Al Marshad said that the Fund is principally a development partner in projects and a lending agency.

The Environment Minister is an alumnus of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mineral in Riyadh .

The Environment Minister was in Saudi Arabia from 28th August to 1st September and was accompanied by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia P. M. Amza and other officials. The Minister is understood to have briefed the President and the Cabinet on Monday

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