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Govt.’s secret deal with US company affects Lanka’s sovereignty, says FSP

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By Rathindra Kuruwita 

Sri Lanka was now dependent on the United States to supply LNG to Sri Lankan power stations thanks to an agreement it had entered into with a US-based energy company, New Fortress Energy, on Friday night, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) alleged yesterday.

FSP Education Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda said that the agreement between the government and US-based energy company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

He said that the agreement had been signed in the late hours of Friday.

“This secret agreement was signed at a time when people are barred from protesting or making a meaningful intervention. The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produces 300 MWs of energy and there is a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US company has now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built,” he said.

The government was planning to increase this to 1000 MWs by 2026. In 2016, international tenders were called for the construction of the 350 MW LNG power plant. The two main contenders were China Harbour and Yugadanavi, which is a state owned company, with the Treasury owning 50% the balance 50% divided between EPF, LECO and LTL.

“But the government gave to China Harbour, and Yugadanavi filed a case against the government over its decision. In 2020 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa cancelled the tender given to China Harbour and gave the right to Yugadanavi, which at that time looked good. However there was a conspiracy, Yugadanavi signed an agreement with the US based energy company New Fortress Energy. With this MoU 40% of the company shares will be given to the US company,” Jayagoda said.

He said the agreement was worse than East Container Terminal pact.

“On 12 July this was discussed by the Cabinet but even the Minister of Power didn’t get a copy until the meeting started. Then Minister Basil Rajapaksa presented the paper and obtained the approval of ministers. The agreement calls for the sale of a large number of shares to the US company as well as the building an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal to provide LNG to the existing Power Station as well as the new 350 MW power plant to be built. This is clearly said on the Company website,” he said.

Given that the pipelines would be controlled by a US company, Sri Lanka would lose energy sovereignty. In the future, Sri Lankans would have to depend on the whims and fancies of US political authorities, he claimed.



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Speaker blasts ministers who often skip sittings

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Yapa

‘They are here only when Prez visits Parliament’

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena expressed his displeasure over ministers skipping Parliament sessions while there were questions that they should be answering.

Following a heated argument between government MPs and their Opposition counterparts over explosions caused by defective domestic gas cylinders, the Speaker said that it was highly regrettable that there were no front-row ministers to respond to queries from the Opposition.

“I have noticed that all the ministers are present on the days the President visits Parliament. The ministers come and stay in the Chamber to mark their presence and show the President that they attend Parliament proceedings. Therefore, very soon I will have to request the President to come to Parliament everyday so that the ministers, too, would be here,” the Speaker said.

The Speaker pointed out that not a single minister was present in the front row either to the right or left of the seat of the Chief Government Whip.

The Speaker said that whenever a problem of national importance was raised by the Opposition, the government should respond to its questions. All ministers are duty bound to respond to questions from the Opposition and none should shirk their collective responsibility, the Speaker said.

Speaker Abeywardena said that he would summon a special consultative committee today (01) to discuss the gas cylinder explosions.

“Everyone including party leaders, officials of CAA and representatives of Litro and Laugfs Gas must be present at the special meeting,” he said.

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Fresh troops leave for overseas deployment

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SLAF personnel assigned for forthcoming mission under UN command

The annual change of personnel of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Aviation Unit, under the United Nations helicopter deployment in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) left the country during the early hours yesterday (30, November 2021).

The 7th contingent of 110 personnel, comprised 20 Officers and 90 Airmen, departed to Central Africa from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Wing Commander Sampath Liyanarachchi will lead this Contingent as the Contingent Commander. This contingent includes a female Officer, for the first time in the history of SLAF UN Deployments. This female Officer is one of the Medical Officers deployed with this Contingent.

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More gas explosions

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Several more explosive incidents connected to gas cylinders were reported from across the country in the 24 hours that ended yesterday noon.

A canteen at the Samurdhi Bank at Lidakumbura, Bibile, was damaged when a fire and explosion took place after the person who manages the place switched on the gas cooker yesterday morning.

A fire had occurred at a house at Thilinagama, Meerigama, on Monday night when the cooker there was turned on, police said,

In separate incidents at Meegoda and Lollegoda, Mawanella residents found that their gas cylinders were leaking and informed officials.

State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, said that CAA had collected 12 samples of gas cylinders from the Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Gampaha, Galle, Kalutara, and Colombo areas to be tested. The lab reports had now been sent to the Moratuwa University and the university had appointed four experts to study the lab reports. The report was expected to be submitted in the next few days.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Dullas Alahapperumam yesterday said that the Moratuwa University, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the Government Analyst’s Department and the relevant institution would work together to determine the causes of explosions.

“Hopefully, we will be able to uncover what’s going on in the coming 24 to 48 hours. Everyone including my wife is scared,” he said.

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