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Private tanker owners warn of derailing fuel distribution operations



If their new cost calculation price formula is not granted

by Suresh Perera

Private tanker (bowser) owners have threatened to cripple the distribution of fuel island-wide this week if they are not granted an increase in the cost calculation price per kilometer taking into consideration the recent fuel hike plus other related factors.

“We will pull out if there’s no response to the new price formula we have already submitted as we have to incur mounting financial losses in continuing to distribute fuel”, warned D. V. Shantha Silva, Joint Secretary of the Sri Lanka Petroleum Private Tanker Owners’ Association (SLPPTOA).

With the price of diesel pushed up by seven rupees per litre, there should be a sense of justice as tanker owners are taking a big hit in pushing ahead with fuel distribution operations across the country, he explained.

He said the new price formula was submitted by the SLPPTOA to the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CEYPETCO), but there has been no favorable response so far.

“Apart from the enhanced cost of diesel, most tanker owners have monthly lease commitments to financial institutions. Under the circumstances, how can they continue to operate at a loss?”, he asked.

“We discussed the issue with Energy Minister, Udaya Gammanpila as well, but though he agreed in principle that the demand for an upward revision of the cost calculation price was reasonable, officials continue to drag their feet”, Silva complained.

“We will not report for duty this week if there’s no positive outcome as tanker owners can no longer absorb the losses and stay afloat”, he said.

With 800 tankers, the bulk of petrol, diesel and kerosene consignments are distributed countrywide by private operators as the CPC owns only a marginal 60 fuel carriers, Silva said. “We handle 90% of the distribution to filling stations in the country”.

Even where fuel is transported by rail to storage depots in provincial areas, the distribution to filling stations is undertaken by private tankers, the Joint Secretary elaborated.

In terms of the new pricing formula, the SLPPTOA has sought an enhanced Rs. 195/65 per kilometer for a 13,200 litre tanker, Rs. 269/28 for a 19,800 litre tanker and Rs. 356/01 for a 3,300 litre tanker.

The price per kilometer has been calculated by factoring in all inherent costs relating to fuel, servicing, depreciation, insurance license and bank guarantee, salaries, tyres and tubes, battery, running repairs and calibration.

“We have been seeking an increase to meet the enhanced running costs over the past three months and submitted three appeals in March and April this year, but to no avail. However, with the recent fuel price hike, we submitted a fresh cost calculation formula on June 14”, Silva said.

“The mark-up in the new pricing formula submitted by the private tanker owners is unrealistic”, a senior official asserted.

“If that’s the position, they can call us for a discussion to sort it out without remaining mum on our proposal”, Silva noted.

“We have decided to keep away from work if there’s no solution forthcoming”, he warned.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that the IMF Executive Board approved Sri Lanka’s program under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The program will allow Sri Lanka to access financing of up to US$ 7 billion from the IMF, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and multilateral organizations.

This is a historic milestone for the country as the Government seeks to restore macroeconomic stability and achieve debt sustainability. Earlier this month, Sri Lanka received IMF-compatible financing assurances from its official creditors, including Paris Club members, India and China, allowing the IMF to convene an Executive Board and consider Sri Lanka’s request for a loan. The program is expected to provide much-needed policy space to drive the economy out of the unprecedented challenges and instill confidence amongst all the stakeholders.

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MPs urged to defeat move to conduct Law College exams only in English medium



Ali Sabry responds to accusations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition MP Gevindu Cumaratunga yesterday (19) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was going ahead with a project launched by former Justice Minister Ali Sabry with the backing of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to conduct Law College examinations only in the English medium, much to the disadvantage of Sinhala and Tamil students.

Addressing the media at Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya at Thunmulla, the leader of civil society group Yuthukama urged all political parties, regardless of whatever differences, to vote against extraordinary gazette notification of 2020 Dec 30 No 22018/13 to be submitted to Parliament by Sabry’s successor, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, tomorrow (21).

The SLPP National List MP said that those who represented the interests of the South, the North as well as the Upcountry could reach a consensus on the issue at hand quite easily.

Responding to The Island query, lawmaker Cumaratunga said that Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya, consisting of a section of rebel SLPP MPs, backed the campaign to protect the language rights of Sinhala and Tamil communities. The first-time entrant to Parliament said that MPs with a conscience couldn’t back this move, under any circumstances, whichever the party they represented.

At the onset of the media briefing, MP Cumaratunga said that the denial of language rights of current and future students was a grave violation of the Constitution-Article 12 and Article 18. In terms of Article 12, no one should be discriminated against on the basis of language whereas Article 18 recognized Sinhala and Tamil as National Languages with English being the linking language.

Alleging that the previous Gotabaya Rajapaksa goverenment planned to implement the controversial law even without securing parliamentary approval, lawmaker Cumaratunga appreciated Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s decision to place it before parliament.

The civil society activist said that this despicable move should be examined against the backdrop of growing external interventions as the country struggled to cope up with the developing political-economic-social crisis. The passage of the new law could cause further deterioration of parliament, MP Cumaratunga said, adding that the House faced a serious credibility issue.

“How could elected MPs whichever party they represented back a move that directly affected the concerned communities,”? Lawmaker Cumaratunga asked.

Referring to a recent call by the Justice Minister to discuss the issue at hand, MP Cumaratunga said that among those present on the occasion were Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, and Dr. Athula Pathinayake, Principal of Law College. “Those who opposed this move asked Dr. Athula Pathinayake what he really intended to achieve by conducting Law College examinations in English, only. However, the Law College Principal failed to provide a plausible response,” the MP said.

Responding to strong criticism of their stand, MP Cumaratunga stressed that the importance of English as a language couldn’t be underestimated. But, ongoing efforts to promote English shouldn’t be at the expense of Sinhala and Tamil, MP Cumaratunga said, questioning lawmakers’ right to deprive Sinhala and Tamil communities of basic rights.

Ratnapura District SLPP MP Gamini Waleboda said that an influential section of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) was behind this move. In a note dated March 17, addressed to all members of parliament urged them to defeat the contemptible move.

Lawmaker Waleboda said that there was no prohibition for those who wanted to sit law examinations in English. There was absolutely no issue over that but the bid to deny the language rights of those who wanted to sit examinations in Sinhala and Tamil was not acceptable under any circumstances. According to him, the BASL hadn’t consulted its membership regarding this move.

MP Cumaratunga also questioned the failure on the part of the apex court to make available to Parliament its interpretations in Sinhala. The Supreme Court continues to provide such clarifications in English only.

Responding to MP Cumaratunga’s allegation that he with the backing of the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resorted to action to make English compulsory for those studying at the Law College, incumbent Foreign Minister Sabry said: “That’s not correct. It is the council of legal education which formulates regulations.  The council consists of CJ, two senior SC judges, AG, SG, Secretary Justice and six senior lawyers of vast knowledge and experience.

 In terms of the constitution all higher education institutions can decide the language of studies and education. That’s how medical faculty, engineering faculty, IT faculty and management faculty conduct studies in English. Already Peradeniya and Jaffna universities do legal studies in English. It is good to do it, that’s how they become competitive. Even in India all legal faculties are in English. “

The President’s Counsel alleged that the kith and kin of certain people articulating this position received their education in English. The minister questioned why politicians get involved in this issue if the council of legal education made the relevant suggestion.

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No power cuts due to N’cholai unit failure – Minister



By Ifham Nizam

The breakdown of the Unit Three of the First Coal Fired Power Plant Complex in Norochcholai 270 MW intake of the 300MW will cost an additional Rs. 20 a unit due to thermal power generation, says the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).  “It will cost the CEB Rs. 96 million extra a day while the Norochcholai machine is out of order,” a senior Electrical Engineer told The Island.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday said Unit 3 of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant had failed. He said the CEB had informed him of the breakdown, but he said there would be no power cuts.

“The Unit 3 was due to undergo major overhaul maintenance in April. To ensure an uninterrupted power supply, the CEB-owned Diesel and Fuel Oil Power plants will be used,” the minister said.

The Norochcholai Power Plant has experienced breakdowns several times on previous occasions as well.The first generator at the power plant was shut down on December 23, last year to manage the coal stocks and for maintenance purposes.

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