Mangala counters Mahinda’s claims on fuel prices | Sunday Observer

Mangala counters Mahinda’s claims on fuel prices

The Government is not following the Mahinda Gotabaya Basil ‘MGB’ pricing formula for fuel of the former government under Mahinda Rajapaksa but following a pricing formula which was scientific and consumer friendly, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne told the media last week.

The State Minster flanked by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera countered views expressed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who accused the present government of selling fuel at higher prices when the global oil prices are down.

“I challenge Mahinda Rajapaksa to speak the truth and not to throw stones at this government from hiding.

He has been fabricating lies all long about this government to mislead people on various issues and this time on fuel prices. I rubbish his claim, but during his time fuel prices were at Rs. 120 when global oil price per barrel was $ 97,” Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

Right to benefit

He said oil prices during the past three years has been low on average compared to the prices during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. We provided a litre of fuel at Rs. 145 when crude oil prices in the world market were over $ 77 a barrel this year.

“When fuel prices fluctuated we gave the benefit to consumers, whereas Mahinda did not reduce prices when global market prices dropped, denying the consumers the right to benefit from low oil prices in the international market,” Minister Samaraweera said.

Minister Wickramaratne said journalists question this government a lot about the fuel pricing formula, but they never did so when the Rajapaksas used their dictatorial powers to determine fuel prices and raised prices as and when they wanted.

According to the Finance Minister fuel prices will be revised on the 10th of every month automatically, either upwards or downwards.

“The prices of fuel is adjusted in India daily, but we cannot do that due to a software issue facing the CPC. We hope to rectify it soon and have a shorter time period to adjust prices,” Minister Samaraweera said.

However, journalists pointed out there was no proper mechanism to grant the benefit of fuel price reductions to consumers when the global market prices come down.

“Prices will adjust accordingly in an open market due to supply and demand,” Minister Wickramaratne said.

He said that he would prefer if fuel prices are adjusted daily as in India which is a better system that will help everyone. “However, we have to follow a system that suits the present time, for the time being.”

Minister Samaraweera also in a scathing attack on former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the present government has been always transparent and under the Right to Information Act anyone could request for information at any time and it will be provided without hesitation.

“We are transparent in all our dealings unlike the former government under Mahinda Rjapaksa who adjusted fuel prices to gain from the hedging deal carried out in connivance with the former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabbraal. I do not want to talk much about him now but I will present all his corrupt deal to the media soon,” Samaraweera said.

Solid foundation

The former President and his confidants in the Central Bank during his time talk big about the exchange rate going up under this government. But it was during the former regime that the dollar went up from Rs. 110.57 to Rs. 127 within a short time.

“When Mahinda took over office in 2005 the dollar which was Rs. 110.5 went up to Rs. 135.94 when he left office in 2014. Today, the US dollar has strengthened and many currencies in the world have depreciated as a result. I urge him to stop misleading people and undermining the work done by this government which has put the economy on a solid foundation,” Minister Samaraweera said.

He said for the first time in 60 years a surplus in the primary account was recorded under the present government and the value and volume of exports increased. To state that vehicle owners will be taxed is a absolute lie. “Our view is that someone who owns a vehicle could afford to pay taxes.”

“The fuel pricing formula will benefit the poorer segment unlike when there was no system to scientifically adjust prices which benefits the richest 10 percent denying the benefits to the poorest 30 percent,” Minister Wickremaratne said.