No rise in fuel prices for six months - Minister

The government has no intention of increasing fuel prices in the next six months, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila assured in Parliament yesterday.

He said this in response to a question raised by SJB MP Hesha Withanage.Minister Gammanpila noted that it was the Good Governance regime that had increased fuel prices in September 2019, adding that the present government had not increased fuel prices so far. He said that despite fuel prices being increased in the world market, the government had taken steps to control the current fuel prices. “As the people’s income gets affected with the constant fluctuations in fuel prices, the government is of the stand that the fuel prices need to be maintained at a stable level. That is why the government decided to absorb the impact of the fuel price fluctuations to maintain stability of the cost of living and the GDP.”

The Minister noted that at the time the fuel price was increased on September 1 2019 under the previous government, the price of a barrel of crude oil stood at $60. “However, it has now increased to $64. If we are to apply the previous government’s pricing formula, then the fuel prices should have been increased over the past 1 ½ years. However, our government will only take the decision to increase fuel prices if the price of fuel in the world market increases sharply to a point where the government cannot handle it. Hence, at this point there is no intention of increasing fuel prices as there has not been a significant rise in global fuel prices,” he added. MP Hesha Withanage then asked the Minister regarding a statement he made earlier claiming that the oil tanks in Trincomalee which were leased to India, would be taken back. He noted that the Prime Minister however, had refuted this claim. Gammanpila said that the last regime had leased the 100 oil tanks at the Trincomalee oil tank farm to India in 2013 and that the current government was in talks with the Indian Government to take back a majority of the oil tanks to the Petroleum Corporation.

He also noted that the rest of the oil tanks will remain under the Indian Oil Company.The Minister said that the discrepancy in his speech was the result of an error during translation from Sinhala to English by a certain media institution.

Gammanpila also told Parliament that the Indian High Commission had issued a clarification in this regard, adding that his statement was endorsed by the Indian High Commission’s clarification.

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