‘Electricity supply cannot be maintained at the expense of transport sector’
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila yesterday (18) said that the foreign currency crisis was so acute the country had no option but to implement daily 90-minute power cut until the hydro power generation increased with the onset of rains.
Minister Gammanpila, who is also the leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) has advised the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to impose daily 90-minute power-cuts or face the consequences.
Gammanpila said that the entire country would face indefinite blackouts if the CEB tried to avoid 90-minute power cuts. The warning was issued at a media briefing called by Minister Gammanpila at the Power Ministry where he stressed that power cuts were inevitable in view of the foreign exchange crisis.
The cash-strapped government was able to pay for stock of diesel on Tuesday (18). In spite of vessels carrying diesel entering Sri Lankan waters nine days ago the government had to struggle to pay them, the lawmaker said.
At the onset of the briefing, Minister Gammanpila flayed the CEB for blaming the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) for the rapidly developing crisis.
MP Gammanpila said: “About 60 percent of the electricity requirement was met by hydro-power till end of Dec 2021. By then, hydro-power generation was down to 38 percent. Struggling to cope up with the situation, the CEB on January 11 asked us to provide additional fuel with effect from January 13. The CPC was not prepared to meet their requirement for obvious reasons. We were told they needed additional supplies at the end of January.”
Minister Gammanpila asked as to how the CPC could supply 1,500 metric tonnes beginning January 13 as it didn’t have the required stocks. The Energy Minister emphasised that the cash-strapped government couldn’t maintain extra stocks.
Lawmaker Gammanpila emphasised that his ministry had no option but to refuse to provide diesel to the CEB at the expense of the transport sector. The lawmaker pointed out that the country couldn’t afford to allow the disruption of transport by releasing sparse stocks available to them.
The Energy Minister asserted that disruption in public and private transport would be far worse than being subjected to daily 90-minute power cut.
Advising the CEB to be mindful of the current situation, Minister Gammanpila said that of the 37,000 tonnes of diesel the government paid for on Tuesday, 10,000 tons would be made available to the CEB. Declaring that would be sufficient for just eight days, Minister Gammanpila said that the CPC would also provide 2,200 tons of furnace oil and 700 tons of diesel to a privately-owned power station that supplied electricity to the government.
Minister Gammanpila said that it would be better to experience daily 90-minute power cuts than facing the prospect of three-hour disruption after having uninterrupted supply for a short period.
The outspoken lawmaker said that there was no point in denying the fact that the country was in severe difficulty due to the foreign currency crisis.
Pointing out that Sri Lanka received USD 750-800 mn a month, the Energy Minister asked how banks coped up with the situation as the government sought 2/3 of that amount for oil imports.
Minister Gammanpila told The Island that the public should be taken into confidence. The current crisis would cause further problems, the lawmaker said, urging the decision makers to be responsible to those who elected them.
The MP warned the failure on the part of the powers that be to realise the actual ground situation and take tangible measures to cut down the fuel bill would plunge the country into an unprecedented crisis.
Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister
ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.
“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.
“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”
Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday. pic.twitter.com/dhAonet10J
— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022
In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.
There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.
Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack
ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.
The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.
They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.
Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.
“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,” Rukshan told Economy Next.
The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.
The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.
However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.
“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.
“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.
“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”
Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.
Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.
“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.
“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”
Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence
Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence
Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.
The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.
Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.
She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.
Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister
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