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Who would be blamed for latest fuel hike, asks SJB



…reminds how SLPP attacked Udaya following June revision

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya lawmaker Mujibur Rahman yesterday (21) asked whom would the ruling SLPP blame for the latest increase in fuel prices.

MP Rahman recalled how SLPP General Secretary Attorney-at-Law Sagara Kariyawasam, with the blessings of the top party leadership, repeatedly demanded Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s resignation over the latter making the announcement regarding the revision of fuel prices on June 11.

Referring to Minister Gammanpila’s hard hitting response to MP Kariyawasam at that time, lawmaker Rahman asked the government to reveal how the decision was arrived at in the latest revision.

The former UNPer pointed out that the Energy Minister was on record as having said that only the Finance Minister could authorise a fuel pricehike. Therefore, in the absence of Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who was overseas, Prof. Peiris, in his capacity as the Acting Finance Minister gave the go ahead, lawmaker Rahman asked.

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) increased the price of a litre of Petrol (92 Octane) by Rs 20 (from Rs 157 to 177), Petrol (95 Octane) increased by Rs. 23 (from Rs 184 to 207), auto diesel by Rs. 10 (from Rs 111 to 121), super diesel by Rs.15 (from Rs 144 to 159). The CPC increased Kerosene by Rs. 10, (from Rs 77 to 87). The Lanka IOC matched the CPC prices immediately.

Lanka IOC previously increased retail selling prices for both diesel (Lanka auto diesel) and Petrol (LP 92) by Rs 5 a litre each on Oct 21. The company didn’t revise prices of Lanka Super Diesel and LP 95.

Responding to another query, MP Rahman said: “When the SLPP demanded Minister Gammanpila’s resignation, the latter revealed that the Cost of Living Committee at a meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on June 09 decided to increase fuel prices. Some SLPP members claimed that itwouldn’t have happened if Basil Rajapaksa was in the country.”

The SJB MP said that in the wake of June fuel price hike the SLPP created an environment for Basil Rajapaksa to enter Parliament on the National List, took oaths as the Finance Minister and within weeks committed the country to a shocking and unprecedented deal with the US Company New Fortress Energy.

MP Rahman said that the vast majority were in such a desperate situation they found it difficult to have a proper meal a day. The former UNPer said that the prorogation of parliament and the declaration that the Local Government polls would be put off by one year underscored the crisis the SLPP experienced. Even after the US-based rating agency Fitch further downgraded Sri Lanka to a pathetic ‘CC’ position the government continued to play politics with the issue, lawmaker Rahman said.

The SJB member said that the truth couldn’t be suppressed or the public attention diverted by a minor section of the government taking a stand contrary to that of the cabinet of ministers. MP Rahman asked how Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila remained in the cabinet after having accused the rest of the cabinet of betraying the country to the US. Similarly, how could President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who headed the cabinet and other members accepted a group that had backed petitions in the Supreme Court against the government, MP Rahman asked.

The MP said that soon after the fuel hike in June those who had now moved the Supreme Court over Yugadanavi deal urged the government to explore ways and means of helping the needy. The latest hike had delivered a knockout blow to the public, MP Rahman said, adding that by the time the Parliament reopened on January 18, 2022 following the prorogation the situation could be far worse.

In spite of grandiose announcements and promises to bring in required foreign investments as well as arrangements to strengthen foreign reserves nothing had materialized, lawmaker Rahman said, warning of dire consequences unless tangible measures were taken.

The SLPP’s near 2/3 majority in Parliament didn’t mean a thing. Actually, the situation was now out of control and the SLPP had realised the magnitude of the crisis it faced, the MP said.

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Now, CEB plans to ‘rationalise’ tariff



By Ifham Nizam

Plans are afoot to ‘rationalise’ the electricity tariff shortly, Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando said, adding that the 52-year-old system should be changed for the betterment of the electricity consumer.

CEB Chief told The Island the CEB tariffs need to be changed to better reflect the use and the income level of the consumer. Ferdinando added that he had already briefed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on it.

Ferdinanado said that right now waste and corruption on CEB’s part had also been added to the consumers’ bill.

He said the CEB had received 1500 MT of fuel yesterday and would receive another shipment soon. However, thort-term power interruptions would continue in several areas until the operations at the Kelanitissa Power Station returns to normal.

“The power interruptions are an annoyance and we are looking for solutions. We too want to provide an uninterrupted power supply to our customers. Our hydro-power generation capacity is low as water levels in reservoirs are receding,” he said.

CEB’s Systems Control Department officials said that power outages might be experienced for one and a half hours due to problems at the Kelanitissa thermal plant complex.

CEB Media Spokesman, Additional General Manager Andrew Navamani said that the national grid had lost 282 MW due to the issues at Kelanitissa thermal plant. He said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had informed the CEB that necessary stocks of fuel for Kelanitissa power plant would be provided by yesterday night.

However, it would take several hours to start the generators, he said.

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Solving vexed problems: Ranil calls for fresh approach



‘What we are witnessing is end of politics’

By Saman Indrajith

Traditional politics did not have solutions to the present-day problems, and the MPs should adopt a novel approach to them, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

Participating in the adjournment debate on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement, the UNP leader said: “We have come to the end of politics. If we go by the words of Francis Fukuyama, it is a question of the end of politics. But that does not mean the end of Parliament. We in Parliament must think afresh. We must discuss how to bring about long-term policies which would help us find solutions to the problems affecting the public. Thereafter, we can go for elections and ask people to decide who or which party could do better. Japan did so. Great Britain is doing so. India and Canada do the same. Why can’t we do it here? If we can arrive at a consensus, we will be able to usher in a new era.

“The President has commenced this new session while the country is facing the worst economic crisis in 34 years. In his statement, he mentioned only the foreign reserve crisis. The economic crisis we are facing is far worse. We created a middle class with open economic policies. With the collapse of the open economy, the middle class too will collapse. There are a handful of companies and individuals who could earn profits while the economy is shrinking. We must decide whether we’ll perish or unite to work out a plan to ensure our collective survival,” Wickremesinghe said.

“We have come to the end of traditional politics. We may shout at each other and go out to shout slogans. But that will not help us solve problems.”

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Chandrika says Sirisena should be thrown out of SLFP



SLPP MP and former President Maithripala Sirisena should be thrown out of the SLFP for making the party a junior partner of the SLPP former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said on Wednesday night after appearing before the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (SPCoI) appointed to implement the recommendations of the final report of the PCoI into alleged Political Victimisation.

Both Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had destroyed the SLFP, Kumaratunga alleged.

The former President said that she had urged Sirisena not to join the SLPP as that would be the end of the SLFP.

“I repeatedly told him this and Sirisena removed me from the party’s Central Committee and stripped me of my organiser’s post in retaliation.

“Now, Sirisena is saying the same things I said about the SLPP. Even during the war, I managed to get the economy up and running. Look at it now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said.

Kumaratunga was also critical of the SPCoI, stating that she had not been summoned before the PCoI on Political Victimisation for her to respond to any allegations against her.

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