By Pamodi Waravita
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instructed Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle to reinstate Theshara Jayasinghe to his position as Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. Chairman yesterday (13), hours after he was removed from the post by the Finance Ministry, The Morning learnt.
Sources said that a letter issued by the Finance Ministry had removed Jayasinghe from his position. However, they said that following the President’s inspection tour to the Litro Gas storage terminal in Kerawalapitiya, he had instructed Attygalle to reinstate Jayasinghe to his original position.
They added that Renuka Perera, the current Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Administrative Secretary, had been proposed as the new Chairman.
Multiple attempts by The Morning to contact Attygalle and Jayasinghe proved futile. However, the Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection State Ministry told The Morning that the removal of Jayasinghe comes under the purview of the Finance Ministry.
Jayasinghe was appointed as Chairman of Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. and Litro Terminals, replacing Anil Koswatte, in July 2021. His previous tenures include National Youth Services Council Chairman/Director General, HSBC Sri Lanka and the Maldives Country Head of Procurement and Payments, Ernst and Young Sri Lanka Head of Business Advisory Services, and Global Nutrition and Management Solutions, USA Manager – Information Security Advisory Services and Manager – International Marketing.
Jayasinghe was the first Non-Accountant Business Unit Head in the history of Ernst and Young, Sri Lanka and the First Pan Country Business Fictional Head at HSBC covering three HSBC entities established in two countries. He is also a member of the Sri Lanka Economist Association and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, USA.
He is also a member of the Sri Lanka Economist Association and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, USA. He serves as a founding member and exco member at Sri Lanka Inc. and Viyathmaga.
State-owned Litro Gas Lanka has been mired in controversy in 2021, as over 800 domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder-related incidents were reported as of mid-December 2021, with seven deaths and 16 injuries. In early 2021, former Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena said that test samples from the 18-litre gas cylinder – which was initially introduced under the former Litro Gas Lanka Chairman Anil Koswatte – and the 12.5 kg gas cylinder of Laugfs Gas PLC have been found to contain a 50:50 composition of butane and propane. Although the 18-litre gas cylinder was later removed from the market, LPG-related explosions continued throughout the year and were reported exponentially during the latter part of 2021.
The Presidential Expert Committee appointed to investigate the recent LPG-related explosions blamed the increase in the propane ratio in the cylinders of both the public firm – Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. – and the private – Laugfs Gas PLC – firm for the explosions. In December 2021, the CAA ordered both Litro Gas Lanka and Laugfs Gas PLC to recall all sealed cylinders in the market that were distributed before 4 December 2021.
Last month, the CAA conducted a hearing between Litro Gas Lanka and the husband (Milinda Premaratne) of a victim of a gas cylinder leak-related explosion, the latter who had filed a complaint regarding the matter earlier this month. Speaking to the media after the hearing, Premaratne claimed that the officials who had represented Litro Gas Lanka at the hearing were “unable” to answer his questions, with a specific allegation made against Jayasinghe for his non-appearance at the hearing.
“Even though Litro Gas Lanka is saying that it will give insurance to the victims, I believe that this is a lie. We expected Jayasinghe to come, but he did not come. His secretary called me at an earlier date and said that he will come to our home, but he did not come. I think that if he had sent the security guards at the company to this hearing, it would have been better, as the officials who turned up could not answer any questions,” said Premaratne.
Speaking further, Premaratne said that his wife sustained serious injuries during the incident in Peliyagoda and is currently receiving treatment at the National Hospital, Colombo.
“Her face, arms, and legs are burnt. She has to undergo a skin transplant and she cannot see out of one side of one of her eyes. She has various internal complications too. My child and I have to monitor her round the clock. Parliamentarians have taken this as a joke. Our hurt and tears are a joke to them. My family has already been destroyed. I heard one MP say that these incidents are happening because females have gas inside them. That MP’s wife and mother are also female. Does he not know the importance and value of females?” questioned Premaratne.