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Unionist asks why long queues at filling stations when CPC has large fuel stocks

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Calls for probe into controversial Govt-LIOC diesel deal

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition trade union activist Ananda Palitha says large stocks of both diesel and petrol are available at the Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela storage tanks, but they are not efficiently delivered to filling stations.

The retired CPC employee said that the government should inquire into the continuing chaotic situation.

Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela are the main distribution points whereas sufficient storage facilities are maintained at district level to meet the demand.

Responding to another query, Palitha pointed out that earlier the government hadn’t been able to procure adequate stocks due to the shortage of USD. After having procured the required stocks, now those

responsible did not distribute fuel efficiently.

The unionist alleged that the Parliamentary Opposition, too, had failed to take up the issues on behalf of the public.

Palitha urged the government to inquire into the inordinate delay in delivering both petrol and diesel against the backdrop of the controversial agreement with the Lanka IOC to obtain diesel. Claiming that the CPC continued to suffer staggering losses due to the agreement reached several months ago, Palitha asked whether it had been scrutinized by the Attorney General’s department. “Cash-strapped CPC paid as much as Rs 79 more on each litre of diesel bought from the LIOC storage in Trincomalee than the retail price of a litre at Ceypetco stations. The losses are mounting,” Palitha said.

“I have all necessary documents to prove how the agreement has caused huge losses to the state coffers at a time the government is struggling to cope up with a severe balance of payments crisis,” Palitha said, urging the government to examine the circumstances leading to the agreement with India/LIOC.

Commenting on the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) directly seeking Indian intervention to procure a consignment of diesel to provide uninterrupted electricity during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year period next week, Palitha said that the government should be ashamed of this development.

That meant the PUCSL had no regard for the government and didn’t foresee any trouble as a result of taking on itself the responsibility of a Cabinet minister, Palitha said. The Opposition, too, should be concerned about this development, he added.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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