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Indian companies to boost Bangladesh power infrastructure




Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 2:

Indian companies Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and Transrail Lighting Ltd are among those awarded contracts for the construction of power infrastructure related to the Rooppur nuclear power project in Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina had green- flagged the construction of five transmission lines at a cost of $442.11 million during Modi’s visit to Bangladesh for the celebrations linked to 50 years of the country’s independence.

“These have been awarded to companies of good repute such as L&T and Transrail Lighting Ltd,” a person familiar with the development said.

The Rooppur power plant is being constructed by Russia and Bangladesh with India helping with “the infrastructure development for power evacuation facilities.” The pact for the 1,200MW plant was signed between the two nations in November 2011.

Construction of the main buildings and structures of the power units is underway, according to Rosatom, the Russian company involved in the plant construction.

India had committed concessional financing of $1.016 billion under a line of credit worth $4.5 billion extended to Bangladesh in 2017 during a visit by Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi.

“Indian lines of credit create market openings for Indian companies. India is very well placed to provide such services as Russia is already building similar power plants for India at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal.

“A joint venture between Russia, Bangladesh and India reduces costs for Russia and Bangladesh and provides commercial opportunities for Indian companies,” he added.

India’s collaboration in the power and energy sector in Bangladesh is not new. India is supplying 1,160MW of power to Bangladesh through two existing interconnections.

“India and Bangladesh are also in talks for the construction of a 765kV power interconnection through Katihar in India via Parbatipur in Bangladesh to Bornagar in India. When constructed, it will reinforce interconnection of grids in the region,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said last month.

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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.

They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.

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