Sri Lankan officials plot to pay off country’s £190m oil debt with supplies of TEA

  • Remash Pathirana (Plantations Minister) said he would deliver Ceylon tea to Tehran
  • He said Sri Lanka would send £3.8million worth of tea each month to settle debt
  • At that rate, the £190million oil debt with Iran would take over four years to repay
  • Tehran didn’t respond with any information regarding the acceptability of the deal.

Sri Lanka plans to settle a £190million oil debt with Iran in tea leaves.

Ramesh Pathirana (Plantations Minister) stated that he plans to send Ceylon teas from Tehran beginning next month.

‘We hope to send $5million (£3.8million) worth of tea each month to repay Iran for oil purchases pending since the last four years,’ he said.

This rate would make it take over four years for the debt to be repaid.

Sri Lanka plans to settle a £190million oil debt with Iran by sending Tehran tea leaves every month for the next four years. Pictured, tea workers pluck tea in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka plans to settle a £190million oil debt with Iran by sending Tehran tea leaves every month for the next four years. Pictured: Tea workers in Nuwara Eliya (Sri Lanka) preparing tea.

It is anticipated that the scheme will help Sri Lanka save much-needed foreign money.

Tehran did not respond to our request for information about the acceptance of the agreement.

The announcement came as Sri Lanka’s inflation hit an all-time high of 11.1% last month. Officials warned that the country could be in a deeper economic crisis, which would lead to more food rationing.

To protect its tourism-dependent economy, the government implemented a wide import ban. This led to shortages in essential goods and foreign currency reserves.

Because commercial banks couldn’t pay imports, supermarkets began rationing sugar, milk powder and other vital items for months.

Plantations minister Ramesh Pathirana (pictured) said he aimed to start sending Ceylon tea to Tehran from next month

Ramesh Pathirana, Plantations Minister (pictured), stated that he would start sending Ceylon teas to Tehran starting next month

Official data on Wednesday showed that prices rose at an unprecedented rate ever since 2015’s launch of the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI). Food prices were up 17% compared to a year earlier.

Udith Rayasinghe, the secretary of agriculture ministry, told reporters that it is possible for authorities to extend food rations to those in greatest need.

“We may need to borrow corn and other grains from friends countries, and we should think about rationing food so mothers and the weak can be fed,” he stated.

“Others might have to make sacrifices.”

Within hours Jayasinghe had been replaced by another employee, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Office announced. It did not specify why.

The government’s ban of agrochemical imports has made food shortages worsened. It was lifted after extensive crop failures and farmer protests.