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Burning Question

Sept 11, 2006 (LBO) – Oil will feature high on the agenda when Commonwealth finance ministers meet in Colombo, with delegates due to share ideas on how small countries like Sri Lanka can tide over soaring costs of crude. "Major issues being taken up will be high oil prices in addition to trade related issues and long term debt sustainability for low income countries," Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Public Administration and former Finance Minister, told journalists on Monday.

Sri Lanka is a net oil importer with its oil bill expected to soar to over two billion dollars this year, from about 1.6 billion dollars the year before.

The small island economy subsidizes petroleum sales, with state oil giant Ceylon Petroleum Corporation selling a few rupees below cost on each litre of fuel and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation dropping prices to keep up.

Though no firm agenda for talks on oil was announced, developing countries were warned against the dangers of subsiding retail fuel prices in the face of steadily increasing global prices of crude.

"Given China's role in the economy, their need for oil and their consumption of oil, anyone who believes that the price of oil is going to come down will be in a difficul

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