Government pledges to inform of any fuel shortage on time
- Gammanpila claims Sapugaskanda closure has no impact on supply
- Challenges Sajith to find lower-priced seller
- Union claims Gammanpila lacks understanding of CPC
BY Pamodi Waravita
Dismissing claims that there is a fuel shortage in Sri Lanka, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila assured yesterday (16) that if such a fuel shortage is due to occur in future, the Government would inform the public with enough time for the public to prepare accordingly.
“My first responsibility is to ensure that there will not be a fuel shortage in the country. The entire world is in a fuel crisis at the moment. Sri Lanka does not produce fuel within the country. We have no (US) dollars to buy fuel. We don’t have facilities to store it. But despite all these challenges, we have been consistently supplying fuel to the people. If there is a shortage, we will tell the public with enough time beforehand. I told the media of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery’s closure in September. It was closed yesterday but this is not something which will affect the fuel supply,” said Gammanpila in Parliament.
He said on 15 November that the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery will be closed for at least 50 days to properly manage the limited foreign exchange in the country and to use that only for the import of essential items. As the Sapugaskanda Refinery’s production is 37% furnace oil and naphtha, 19% airplane fuel and kerosene oil, and 43% petrol (14%) and diesel (29%), its closure will not affect the fuel supply, he assured.
“Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has alleged that spot tenders will be taken to import fuel directly into the country, following the refinery’s closure, for higher commissions. I challenge him to find a supplier who will be able to provide fuel at a lower cost than we hope to buy,” he said.
Meanwhile, responding to a question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday in Parliament claimed that the Opposition was spreading false propaganda campaigns to stir panic buying and that the country has sufficient stocks of fuel.
“It is a crime to make people suffer in this manner. I too had to stay in the line to get my vehicle pumped at the fuel station. There are groups paid by the Opposition going on spreading gossip creating panic among people. Some fall for these lies and go to the fuel stations to join the queues. There is no need for panic buying and need to store fuel at home. There had been similar situations and there had been instances where the Opposition had done the same. But we assure people not to panic. Our Government will supply fuel without any shortage,” the Chief Government Whip said.
Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Branch President Ananda Palitha also expressed his views.
“Gammanpila’s speech on 15 November shows that he does not have even a basic understanding of how the CPC functions. Any country regards a refinery as a valuable resource. However, Gammanpila is saying that its closure will not affect the public. Crude oil is used for the production of petrol, diesel, and many other types of fuels in the refinery. There is no crude oil crisis in the world – why then is the refinery shut?” questioned Palitha at a press conference held yesterday.
Speaking to The Morning on Monday (15), Palitha also claimed that it is cheaper to import crude oil and refine it, instead of importing petrol and diesel.
Sri Lanka is currently grappling with a severe foreign exchange crisis, alongside reported shortages of several essential items, including sugar, milk powder, and liquid petroleum gas.