JVP mobilizing against Adani wind power proposal in Mannar
by Shiran Ranasinghe and Sirimantha Ratnasekera
JVP has decided to mobilize people, members of clergy, trade unions and civil society organisations to defeat a government move to give away land in Talaimannar to Indian conglomerate Adani Group to develop a one GW wind power project with an investment of more than $1bn.
Former JVP Kalutara District MP, Dr Nalinda Jayatissa said that action has been planned to stand up against the government’s move to give away national assets to foreigners by ruling party politicians seeking commissions.
“We know that government is in a dire situation because it cannot get loans as international rating agencies have downgraded the country. It could obtain loans only from China and India. Another means to shore up the country’s foreign reserves is bringing in outside investments. But these investors do not come here for the love of Sri Lanka,” he said.
“They have a long term plan of establishing their presence at places of geopolitical importance in this country. The latest move is giving away land in Talaimannar to the Adani Group. Making use of forex crisis. Some politicians will get commissions out of these deals. We must stop this.”
Finance Ministry sources said that there is a possibility of a cabinet paper being submitted to the next cabinet meeting to get the approval for the project in the same way the government rushed the deal with the New Fortress Energy company through the cabinet.
Ministry sources said that the Adani group has proposed to develop a 1,000 MW wind energy project in Talaimannar and has also expressed interest in a second wind energy project in Pooneryn.
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)General Manager Eng MR Ranatunga said that there was a proposal for the project and Adani’s billionaire Chairman, Gautam Adani and his officials during their visit to Sri Lanka in October expressed interest in projects related to ports, power and renewable energy. They also visited Mannar for an inspection. No agreement has been signed for the project so far, Ranatunga said.
CEB chairman M.M.C Ferdinando confirmed that they had received a proposal from the Adani group. Adani Group’s subsidiary Adani Green Energy has submitted a proposal to the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and the CEB.
He said that the BOI had referred the proposal to the Cabinet-appointed Management Committee on Investments (CAMCI), which was set up up to fast track investment proposals.
“Adani had referred a proposal to the BOI, and copied to me and the CAMCI headed by the Treasury Secretary” he said.
Finance ministry sources said that Adani’s proposal had received approval from the CAMCI last week.
Dr Jayatissa said that they would commence an awareness campaign and do everything possible to reverse the government’s move to sell national assets to foreigners.
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.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
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)
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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