By Nisthar Cassim
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) owes debt and payments worth nearly $ 1 billion, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed yesterday exposing the bankruptcy of the State-owned entity which has aggravated the on-going fuel crisis and urgent procurement.
“With accumulated debt and other pending payments, the total due is almost $ 1 billion,” Wickremesinghe told a meeting with editors of print and electronic media where he explained the current economic situation including the emergency measures being taken to address the fuel crisis.
Of the CPC dues, the two State banks’ burden is nearly $ 600 million.
The Prime Minister implied a major catastrophe if one analyses the debt conundrum between the two State utilities – CPC and CEB combined along with the two State banks and the national carrier SriLankan Airlines. Previously, Wickremesinghe has said that SriLankan Airlines need to be privatised as it is a burden that the State and the people can no longer bear.
He said the recently passed Sri Lanka Electricity (Amendment) Bill was one of the steps to improve energy security, efficiency and renewable energy generation. The Bill allows any person to apply for a power generation license to generate electricity of over 25 MW. He also said that Sri Lanka’s potential to become a renewable energy hub is immense with Mannar and Hambantota combined capable of generating an unprecedented 15 GW with massive export potential.
Advisor to the Prime Minister Sagala Ratnayake updated the editors on the current status of the fuel situation in the country. He stated that a confirmed petrol shipment was due on 22 July whilst the Government was also attempting to secure fuel shipments at an early date. However, he explained that until those were confirmed the details would not be released.
Ratnayake said efforts are underway to improve the supply of diesel from 11 July onwards and furnace oil as well.
In terms of LPG, he said that $ 90 million has been set aside for import of 100,000 tons (enough for four months) with funding from the World Bank ($ 70 million) and $ 20 million from Litro. A tripartite agreement including the supplier will be signed this week.
Initially, 33,000 tons of LPG procured by Litro at a cost of $ 20 million will reach Sri Lanka by 6 July and ready for distribution in the city limits from 8 July onwards.
Separately, at the editors meeting, Senior Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr. R.H. Samaratunga, also briefed on the economic situation and how the economy has reached a precarious position.