Friday, August 8, 2014

Minister Champika Calls for 'Right to Information' in Energy Sector

Minister of Technology, Research and Atomic Energy Patali Champika Ranawaka recently said that there is a need for a transparent fuel and electricity price mechanism in the country. He said that there were certain 'corrupt' technicians and 'white collar criminals' who were not letting such a system to be established.

He made these observations at the launch of his new book "Balaya saha Balaya" and its English translation “Power and Power” at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute last Tuesday, (Aug. 5).

Speaking further, he stated that it was easy to just say that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CEYPETCO) was running at a loss. But it does not explain the complete story. People should be made aware as to why a liter of diesel is imported at Rs. 103 but sold at Rs. 125. Similarly, a petrol liter is imported at Rs. 97 or Rs 100 and sold at Rs. 162 or Rs 170. The public has a right to know what happens to the petroleum tax levied from them and should be made aware why CEYPETCO was running at a huge loss despite these exorbitant prices, Ranawaka further said.

He also mentioned that even though the estimated loss conveyed to the Public Utilities Commission before the year began said that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will accrue a loss of Rs 7000 million in the first six months of this year, the loss has run to Rs 21,000 million.

Industries and the public should have a right to know why such losses are occurring despite the fact that the revenue of Fuel Adjustment Charges were at Rs. 25,000 million. The public has a right to know how this money was spent.

The Minister also mentioned that there was a global mafia of energy which has been the key to political power. His book "Power and Power" deals with the relationship of these two powers. He said that as far as the energy mafia is concerned, "oil is thicker than blood."

Meanwhile, the first edition of Ranawaka's book "Balaya saha Balaya" and its English translation "Power and Power" sold out within a day of its release. A reprint is due to appear soon. This, in a way, shows that people are longing for their right to information about the critical sector of energy.

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