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Fuel price increase in accordance with formula

Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa is once again up to his old tricks of twisting facts to mislead the people, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.

A media briefing held at the Finance Ministry had the Minister and State Minister Eran Wickramaratne explain the recent fuel price increase in the wake of allegations from Rajapaksa who said the government was manipulating fuel prices for its own benefits. Minister Samaraweera explained that the recent increase was done in accordance with the fuel pricing formula introduced in March this year and the current prices were still less than in 2014.

In 2014, Octane 92 was priced at Rs 150 per litre but current prices stand at Rs 145 per litre.

The pricing formula will capture the price fluctuations of crude oil and the dollar rate, giving benefits to the people, Samaraweera said. “During the Rajapaksa regime when a barrel of crude oil was at USD 98, they sold petrol at Rs 157, when it came down to USD 68 they sold at Rs 150, when at USD 46 at Rs 150 and by 2014 when it was USD 55, petrol was still being sold at Rs.150”.

Even when it came to the SLR-USD exchange rate, when Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed power it was at Rs 100.50 to the dollar and when he left it was Rs 135.91 to the dollar, he added.

“This was how Mahinda Rajapaksa did not give the benefits of oil reductions to the people,” he said. He stressed that fuel prices remained inflated also because of the Hedging Deal which cost the tax payer Rs 10.2 billion, “I have ordered several investigations into former Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal in this matter and will reveal all soon”. Even a Supreme Court Order asking that prices be reduced during the Rajapaksa regime was ignored, the Minister said. State Minister Wickramaratne explained that the fuel pricing formula which will revise prices on the tenth of every month will ensure a proper system, “international price of crude oil (Singapore Platts rate), value of the rupee, distribution costs and percentage of tax on fuel” would also be taken into consideration in the costing.