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GoSL-US-Yugadanavi deal: CEB TUs to protest despite leave cancellation 

a year ago

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BY Pamodi Waravita  The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Trade Union Alliance will be engaging in an islandwide protest today (3), despite the CEB management’s announcement yesterday (2) that all staff leave has been cancelled until further notice.  “All employees will take sick leave and be in Colombo for the protest, where we also hope to hand in a petition to the relevant authorities,” the Alliance’s Convenor Ranjan Jayalal told The Morning yesterday. Reportedly, a CEB official has told the media yesterday that a circular has been released, preventing CEB staff from taking leave without the permission of the CEB Deputy General Manager. The said circular has also prohibited the use of CEB vehicles to travel to Colombo.  Jayalal added that the Alliance will also eventually engage in trade union strike action if the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) fails to suspend the sale of 40% of the shares held by the Government in the Yugadanavi liquefied natural gas (LNG) Power Plant to US-based energy company New Fortress Energy Inc.  Trade unions affiliated with the oil and ports industries will also engage in a protest at 12 noon today, against the sale of national resources, in front of their respective workplaces. Jayalal accused the Government, including Power Minister Gamini Lokuge, of failing to provide them with a meeting for a discussion on the aforementioned matter, adding that Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and National People’s Power Leader and Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake have listened to their concerns. He further said that the Government has a limited resource of coal at the moment for its coal-powered power stations and that as such, interruptions to the supply of electricity are imminent. The People’s Alliance, led by Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, and Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, held a press conference on 29 October, where they heavily criticised the agreement that the GoSL signed with New Fortress Energy Inc. In response to their allegations, speaking at a media interview on 1 November, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary and MP Sagara Kariyawasam said that some sort of action needs to be taken against the aforementioned Cabinet Ministers if they cannot get in line with the Government’s decisions. “These Ministers enjoy all privileges afforded to cabinet ministers and yet criticise the Government,” said Kariyawasam.  The JVP filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal against the agreement whilst the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera, and the Federation of National Organisations filed fundamental rights (FR) petitions at the Supreme Court regarding the matter. New Fortress Energy Inc. said that it has signed a framework agreement with the GoSL to construct a new offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal, primarily located in the Kerawalapitiya Power Complex, to supply gas to Sri Lanka’s power plants. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) announced on 26 October that the Government is set to receive a $ 250 million inflow from the partial divestment of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy Inc. and that the first tranche of the same is expected in November and December 2021. However, allegations levelled against the deal claim that the long-term loss to Sri Lanka through the deal is around $ 6 billion and also cite threats to the country’s energy security.

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