The Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera says although Sri Lanka needs more than USD 550 million in cash on hand to purchase fuel for the month of June, it does not possess the capability to do so.
Speaking in Parliament today, Minister Wijesekera said fuel suppliers had halted the supply of fuel to Sri Lanka due to non-payment for a long time.
The Minister stressed the suppliers have been informed pertaining to an easy payment method adding they look forward to entering into a long-term agreement with fuel suppliers in the future.
Samagi Jana Balawegaya Parliamentarian Mayantha Dissanayake claimed even 50 shipments will not satisfy the demand for fuel and gas adding the public are still forming queues to purchase fuel and gas.
MP Dissanayake said the public are facing heavy burdens and questioned if Minister Wijesekera possesses any solution to resolve the issues.
Responding to the MP, Minister Wijesekera as the subject Minister for fuel and electricity acknowledged that the public are facing severe burdens adding however the matter of gas falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance.
He said the usual process of sourcing fuel was the tender process adding however no bids have been received due to non-payment for previous stocks.
The Minister said suppliers have been informed of favourable proposals after holding discussions with the Finance Ministry and banks. He said accordingly over 90 suppliers have submitted proposals.
Minister Wijesekera said many parties including Members of Parliament had questioned why fuel was not obtained from Russia at an affordable price adding however they have informed all relevant firms on favourable conditions for the country when obtaining fuel from Russia.
Joining the debate, MP Wimal Weerawansa questioned as to why fuel and gas shipments are not being purchased at cheaper rates from Russia. Responding to the MP, Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said they have received various proposals including proposals to obtain fuel and gas shipments from Russia, Middle Eastern nations and other countries. The Minister said he will table a full report on the proposals to Parliament.
When questioned by MP Mayantha Dissanayake on the steps to be taken to minimise the losses incurred by the Ceylon Electricity Board, Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the losses must be restructured adding however all such plans are in vain if Parliament does not extend its support for the plans.
He said irrespective of who is in power, trade unions take action in order to hinder the processes formulated by the relevant subject Ministers.
Minister Wijesekera said the losses incurred by the CEB in the first quarter of 2022 are Rs.65 billion.
The Minister said the CEB needs to pay Rs.22 billion to suppliers who have entered into agreements pertaining to renewable energy adding payments had been halted since September 2021.
He said the Electricity Board is also facing difficulty in sourcing the necessary funding for the required equipment and spare parts needed to carry out maintenance.
Minister Wijesekera said if all Parties in Parliament agrees, the government will be able to educate them on plans which have been formulated to deal with minimizing the losses incurred.