To check this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted import data from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL). Expenditure on fuel imports depends not just on consumption, but also largely on international prices, which tend to fluctuate. Therefore, FactCheck.lk considered average expenditure on fuel from 2010 to 2020.
CBSL data indicates that the average import expenditure on fuel (petroleum and coal) from 2010 to 2020 was USD 3,725 million. In this period, fuel import expenditure was higher than expenditure on any other import except in 2016, where expenditure on textiles and on machinery and equipment were between USD 200 and 300 million higher.
Data also shows that, from 2010 to 2020, the average fuel expenditure was 20% of total import expenditure. (NB: The import expenditure share on fuel has decreased over time. The average from 2010 to 2014 was 24% and the average from 2015 to 2020 was 16%.)
The minister is correct that fuel is Sri Lanka’s foremost import (in most years in the past decade); and that expenditure on fuel is approximately 20% of total imports—when considering the average share since 2010. Therefore, we classify his statement as TRUE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
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