Sri Lanka govt delays court-ordered fuel price cut

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan petrol pumps ran dry on Thursday after the government delayed a cut in petrol prices ordered by the Supreme Court, leaving motorists in long queues and forcing some stations to close temporarily.

The supreme court on Wednesday ordered state authorities to cut petrol prices by 18 percent to 100 rupees ($0.895) a litre based on a price formula it laid out, with effect from midnight.

“The cabinet has decided not to cut prices from midnight as the Supreme Court official ruling has not been received yet,” Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said. “The cabinet will meet again once we receive it.”

Some fuel dealers said they had been waiting for the price cut to place new orders.

Officials of state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) were not available for comment.

The supreme court became directly involved in setting the price after opposition politicians, businessmen and others sued, arguing that the state-owned oil company should not be able to pass its losses in an oil hedging arrangement to customers.

The government last reduced petrol prices on Dec. 15, by 14 percent to 122 rupees ($1.10).