President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday (February 22), directed Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Ministry officials to immediately release necessary funds to clear fuel shipments.
A Special Cabinet Meeting was called yesterday evening to discuss the power and fuel crises that have been raging for months. The Central Bank Governor and the Treasury officials were also present at the Special Cabinet Meeting.
According to reliable sources, the President did not agree to negotiations on increasing fuel pricesat yesterday’s meeting.
Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said the release of fuel had to be limited due to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPC) limited fuel reserves, and as a result, the amount of fuel released on a daily basis has been limited to 50 percent of total demand.
This is the primary cause of fuel shortages in several areas of the country, he added.
In addition to suspending fuel imports due to the dollar deficit, Gammanpila said no payment has been made for the vessel that transported diesel to the Colombo Port.
The required amount to pay off the vessel, US$ 35 million, has yet to be found, according to the Energy Minister.
The supply of fuel for power generation has been limited, and the daily supply of diesel has been limited to 1,000 metric tonnes. Gammanpila went on to say that even that amount of fuel is only going to the Kelanitissa Sojitz Power Plant, which is legally bound to the CPC. Meanwhile, Co-Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Ramesh Pathirana said the President also told officials not to continue power cuts. He, however, added that this cannot be done overnight, as the fuel crisis will take a few days to settle.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Thameenah Razeek)