Yugadanavi Agreement to be tabled in Parliament

  • Dinesh assures tabling soon after ‘relevant formalities’

BY Pamodi Waravita

Contradicting a recent claim by Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando, Leader of the House and Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Parliament yesterday (8) that the controversial agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the US-based New Fortress Energy Inc. company will be tabled in Parliament soon.

“The agreement will be tabled after the relevant formalities are carried out,” said Gunawardena.

This was in response to a question raised by United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Ranil Wickremesinghe, who said that his party needs to see the agreement before reaching a decision on their stance on the matter.

However, Ferdinando said last week that the content of the agreement cannot be disclosed due to a condition in the agreement precluding its disclosure and that the agreement has not even been presented to the CEB yet.

In a press release issued in September 2021, New Fortress Energy Inc. said that it would acquire 40% of the shares of the 310 megawatts (MW) Yugadanavi Power Plant in Colombo and that as part of the agreement, it would also provide about 1.2 million gallons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Government per day through a LNG terminal which will be built off the shores of Colombo.

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 cite threats to the country’s energy security.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal against the agreement whilst the Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB), Colombo Archbishop 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.

The People’s Alliance led by Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Energy Minister and Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila, and Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, held a press conference on 29 October, where they heavily criticised the agreement that the Government signed with New Fortress Energy Inc.

The CEB Trade Union Alliance held an islandwide protest on 3 November, demanding that the aforementioned agreement be revoked.