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CEB thermal power plants being shut for want of fuel

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Sapugaskanda refinery to be closed again

By Ifham Nizam

Four turbines of the Sapugaskanda 72 MW power station A ceased to function due to a shortage of fuel yesterday. However, temporary measures were taken to run the power station B instead.

A senior management official of the Power Ministry said that Barge Mounted Power Plant at the Colombo Port too had failed to function due to a fuel shortage.

Plans are underway to go for emergency power purchases during the next six months, senior management of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said.

The Island learns that Power Minister Gamini Lokuge and Ministry Secretary Wasantha Perera had lengthy discussions on the issue, but CEB Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando was not present.

CEB General Manager M.R. Ranatunga, contacted for comment, told The Island that coal stocks would be sufficient till September.

Fuel stocks are available only up till 10 January.

Ranatungha said the good news was that the demand had not increased unlike in the previous year, and the furnace fuel stock was sufficient until 24 January.

He said that if the CEB could not provide funds to make payments to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, it would face a serious issue where thermal power generation was concerned.

Over the past few weeks, the CEB had also battled with several breakdowns.

A senior official stressed that it would take around 45 days for oil tankers to arrive here. “Emergency power suppliers can generate electricity for a day or two with the available feul stocks, but beyond that the situation will become precarious” he added.

The CPC has increased the fuel prices –Heavy fuel from Rs. 70 to Rs. 110 and Nepatha from Rs. 74 to Rs. 84.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery would be temporarily closed from 03 January, 2022, due to the shortage of foreign exchange to purchase crude oil.

Although the refinery is expected to resume its operations before 30 January, 2022, but 22222222222some claimed that it would take more time.

The Singapore-based energy and commodities company which was awarded the long-term contract to provide crude oil here is slated to commence supplying petroleum from 26 January, the Energy Ministry said.

During the procurement process, the relevant company should be informed 90 days in advance to purchase Murban Crude Oil used at Sapugaskanda refinery, the ministry explained.

It added that the shortage of foreign exchange had hampered the plan to buy alternative crude oil for emergency use.

Therefore, purchasing crude oil on credit had become difficult as Sri Lanka’s credit ratings were falling, a ministry official pointed out.

He, however, said there would not be a fuel shortage due to the refinery’s temporary closure, as it met only 14% of petrol and 29% of diesel requirements of the country.

The announcement came a month after Sri Lanka temporarily halted the operations at the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery on 15 November in a bid to save foreign exchange.

However, the CPC has made it clear to the CEB that it cannot provide fuel on credit any further.

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Sumith Wijesinghe said that the CEB was expected to pay Rs. 91 Billion to the CPC within two years.



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“Foreign bond holders more important to govt. than hard-pressed people”

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SJB slams GR’s policy speech

The main opposition SJB says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Policy Speech delivered in Parliament on Jan 18 failed to provide solutions to the crises faced by the country.

Addressing a press briefing held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo on Thursday, SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne said that the crises with regard to economic management and governance had gone beyond the control of the government subjecting the masses to severe hardships without essential goods and services.

Wickremaratne said that  there had been no increase in the value of  GDP supporting the domestic and foreign borrowings by this government during the last two years.

He accused the government of giving priority to paying off debts of foreign cronies while  starving the people without essential foods inclusive of fuel for electricity generation.

“People who could not afford to basic necessities despite having cash in hand due to the shortage of dollars and foreign exchange now had to stay in the dark for several hours a day without electricity due to lack of fuel as the govt has not been able to maintain a supply chain properly. But the government, having crossed its wires, gives priority to repaying the loan to its cronies while mounting pressure on its citizens,” Wickremaratne said.

“President Rajapaksa’s Throne Speech did not provide answers to any of  the current problems  facing the country. Although the country faced two major problems, there was no answer to either of them in the President’s policy statement.

“First, rising commodity prices push up inflation increasing  vegetable prices. Secondly, the import of essential commodities has come to a complete standstill due to the foreign exchange deficit. There is a shortage not only for  food and fuel but also for  medicines for the people.”

He said only 25% of the country’s essential medicines are produced locally and the rest are imported. There is also a shortage of essential medicines due to lack of dollars for imports.

At a time when the people are under so much of  pressure, the government is  boasting of servicing   international sovereign bonds on time. People need to be told the secret of why foreign debtors are more important to the government than the citizens of the country, Wickremaratne said.

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Prevention, cooperation, mutual assistance essential to counter connected nature of terrorists in South Asia – Army Chief

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Prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential to counter the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in the South Asian region, said Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva on Thursday, emphasising on the need of law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies.”

“In the legitimate government efforts to fight terrorism or organised crimes, in this regard, a possible South Asian regional treaty could promote counter-terrorism and anti-crime measures by promoting institutional structures and decision-making processes to promote cooperation, coordination, shared expertise and common legal approaches,” said Silva while virtually addressing the “Countering use of Crypto Currencies to Finance Terrorism” event on Thursday.

“Due to the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in our region, prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential,” he added.

The General also said that there are avenues for collaboration by establishing information exchange at customs, imposing immigration barriers and commonly agreeing on the regulation of transporting and stockpiling of weapons and drugs, dangerous goods or potential warlike equipment.

Emphasising that mutual assistance can be enhanced by extending measures for collecting evidence of suspects, exchange of wanted personnel and etc, Silva said that enhancing the capacities of regional countries to handle terrorism and criminals would depend extensively on the training of law enforcement agencies.

“Apart from training for military personnel, of a particular country, it is also essential to carry out joint training for various armed forces of the South Asian region. Conducting counter-terrorism operations at a regional scale would also require regional funding. It is understood that funding counter-terrorism campaigns in recent times has become quite expensive due to the sophistication of insurgence,” Silva added.

The General also said that “this is where we need cooperation as very experience armies, who have long been engaging in counter-terrorism operations, we have specialities, therefore we can share each other’s specialities to counter each other’s imitations.”

“Law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies and principles in the regional countries feel enhanced the compatibility between the countries in fighting transnational crimes and terrorism,” he added. (ANI)

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COVID-19 on the rise again; 800+ new cases a second day running

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(Economynext) New COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Sri Lanka, with health authorities detecting over 800 new infections on Thursday (20) for a second consecutive day.

With the 827 new cases, total cases in the country have gone up to 599,363, official data showed.

Around 15,279 patients are currently receiving treatment in hospital or at home.

With 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hour period, the island nation’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 15,243.

Health authorities warned that the sector could face challenges managing new patients if daily cases continue to surge.

Officials are also concerned about an apparent hesitance for the booster dose of the vaccine that was largely absent in the initial rollout.

“We have provided the opportunity to get the booster countrywide. But because the fatality rate is now low people may think taking it is no longer necessary,” State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production Channa Jayasumana said speaking to journalists on Friday (21).

“Sri Lanka will go back to the previous state with people not taking the booster dose,” he warned.

The booster rate is very low compared to Sri Lanka’s otherwise impressive vaccination numbers, said Jayasumana.

“Only 4.8 million have taken the booster so far, and only 26,796 came forward yesterday to get it.

“With the increase of patients, even though the fatality rate is low, it can be overwhelming for the health sector if patient numbers in hospital wards and ICUs go up.”

Sri Lanka has so far vaccinated 16.3 with the first dose while 13.8 have received both doses.

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