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Electricity Consumers Association fumes over giving monopoly hold to NFE on supplying LNG

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By Ifham Nizam

The Electricity Consumers’ Association yesterday alleged that the US firm, New Fortress Energy, was gearing up to grab Sri Lanka’s natural gas reserves.

Association’s Secretary Sanjeewa Dhammika yesterday told journalists that the authorisation of an agreement for the supply of LNG without any legal background would not result in LNG price control and the American company would squeeze the country when opportunity came to sell gas at arbitrary prices.

Dhammika said that allowing a US company to monopolie the LNG supply iolated the rights of electricity consumers. Although the government claims that the monopoly would be limited to only five years, there is the danger of lasting indefinitely.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has been empowered by the Electricity Act to ensure that electricity is supplied at the lowest possible price, and as a result, transactions that supply electricity at high prices are barred.

The Union pointed out that during the period of good governance, the illegal transaction of buying 600 MW of electricity from Turkish ships berthed at Sri Lankan harbours was avoided because the Public Utilities Commission had powers.

“But there is no agency with any legal powers to regulate LNG supply. In such a scenario, handing over the supply of LNG to a foreign monopoly would push the country’s energy sector into a major crisis,” he warned.

Dhammika said in a statement: More than 2000 MW of LNG power plants are to be constructed in the near future. Accordingly, nearly 50 percent of the installed capacity in the country will be supplied by these power plants. Giving a foreign monopoly the power to decide the fate of 50 percent of the country’s electricity supply will instead result in electricity being generated at the monopoly’s arbitrary prices. Also, as the existing power plants can be powered by diesel, the country will be further victimized by the diesel mafia by supplying diesel instead of LNG at the behest of the LNG company.

Accordingly, the loss to the CEB will be further increased by this illegal transaction. The diesel mafia in the guise of LNG will work to impose that burden on the consumer. Accordingly, laws should be enacted to regulate the supply of LNG and delegate regulatory powers to the Public Utilities Commission before handing over the supply of LNG to a foreign monopoly. Then suppliers should be selected to supply LNG on a transparent basis based on competitive tenders, added Dhammika.



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Vasu defends constituents’ right to differ

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Prez chairs govt. group meeting:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has strongly defended the right of the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) constituents’ to take up contentious issues in public.

Minister Nanayakkara told SLPP parliamentary group meeting at the President’s House on Sunday night (24) that their right to differ on matters of public interest shouldn’t be questioned.

Nanayakkara said so when Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena and MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi faulted some constituent parties for dissenting views on certain issues.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was present at the meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The meeting lasted for about two hours.

The SLPP held Sunday’s meet in the wake of some constituent parties of the ruling coalition asking for a discussion on the questionable agreement between the government and the US New Fortress Energy Company over the Yugadanavi power plant, etc. Sources said that initially, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that the issue could be discussed with the Premier but subsequently arrangements were made for the Sunday’s meeting.

The New Fortress recently announced that a definitive agreement had been executed for the external investment in West Coast Power Limited (WCP).

WCP owns the 310 megawatts Yugadanavi Power Plant based in Colombo. The deal is also for the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo. In terms of the agreement, New Fortress will acquire a 40 per cent ownership stake in WCP. The US energy firm plans to build an offshore LNG terminal located off the coast of Colombo.

Minister Nanayakkara has said it is not unusual for members of a coalition to hold different views depending on the issues as they also represent the interests of the public.

Nanayakkara has pointed out how the left parties remained with the UPFA though they didn’t agree with the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to enact the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Parliament passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority on 08 Sept. 2010, enabling the President to seek a third term among other things.

The SLPP constituents have differed with the government on several issues such as fuel price increases announced by Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila on 12 June as well as the abortive bid to transfer 49 percent of shares of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port to India and Japan.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa spearheaded the constituents’ campaign. He sought an explanation particularly as regards Cabinet approval for the controversial energy deal with the US firm, without a discussion among ministers.

NFF sources told The Island that their leader felt the urgent need to take up the matter to prevent further deterioration of relations among the coalition members.

Several parties including government ally the Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa moved the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively against the secretive energy deal with the US firm.

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‘Those who hesitate to get vaccinated pose a threat to others’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath said yesterday a significant number of people had not received the Covid-19 vaccine, and posed a threat to society.

“No matter what your age category is, you will be at a higher risk of being infected and spreading it to others. So please get vaccinated,” he urged.

The DDGHS said that a booster shot would be given to people from 01 Nov.

The Health Ministry would carry out the ongoing vaccination drive until everyone got the first two doses, he said.

“However, we won’t keep hundreds of vaccination centres open. Most likely, those who have not got vaccinated will have to go to designated locations to receive the vaccine.”

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School attendance high as parents have faith in teachers – CTU head

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Teachers and principals protested at Colombo Fort yesterday urging the government to rectify their salary anomalies. The protesters marched from the Fort Railway Station towards the Presidential Secretariat but police did not permit them to proceed beyond the Telecom rounadbout. Pic by Nishan S Priyantha

By Rathindra Kuruwita

School attendance was high Despite inter-provincial travel restrictions, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin said yesterday. “The government announced on 22 October that primary sections of all schools would be reopened on 25 October. Despite the short notice the attendance was high, and this is testament to the faith parents have in teachers,” he said.Primary sections of 9,155 schools recommenced yesterday.

“However, we will only teach. Teachers do a lot of additional work instead of teaching and most people who slander us have no idea about this,” he said.

Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath urged relevant authorities to provide safe and adequate transport facilities to students. It was vital that those vehicles were ventilated, and social distancing was maintained.

“We urge parents to buy reusable face masks for kids. If your child has any symptoms of COVID such as fever and cold, don’t send him/her to school until you are certain this is not COVID. Teach your child the importance of washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. This is the way we can ensure there is no spread in the school system,” Dr. Herath said.

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