‘Fuel-savings’ fund to support country - Power and Energy Minister | Sunday Observer

‘Fuel-savings’ fund to support country - Power and Energy Minister

The money that will be saved by reduced fuel imports will be used to set up a fund that will support the country during the current crisis, Power and Energy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said. 

He  said the demand for fuel had dropped sharply due to the lockdown mode in the country.

Sri Lanka’s fuel imports per annum account for around 28 percent of total imports to the country.

With regard to passing on the benefit of the global drop in oil prices currently at around US$ 21 a barrel,  the minister said there is no point in granting a price reduction now when the country is on a lockdown mode and everyone is home-bound.

“We will  grant that reduction when the country gets over the present crisis and normalcy has been restored,” the minister said.

When asked about getting back to the fuel pricing formula that had been operating in the past, he said  no decision has been taken on that.

The fuel pricing formula which has been with the Treasury for over 20 years revises fuel prices based on global price fluctuations.Meanwhile the Minister assured that the country has adequate stock of fuel for nearly a month, adding that there is no reason whatsoever to be worried of a scarcity which is being rumoured through social media.

“We have ample stocks to meet the demand which has dropped sharply due to the lockdown of the country to combat the spread of the virus,” the Minister said. Fear of a shortage of fuel in the country lingers among people despite being confined to homes for over three weeks. Rumour-mongering was at its height since the news of the coronavirus outbreak broke early this year creating panic among the public.

“We urge people not to be swayed by unfounded news and gossip about fuel or food scarcity in the country. The government has taken steps to ensure a smooth supply of all essential commodities to consumers,” the minister said, adding that import of fuel had taken place despite the crisis  though not in a large quantity due to low demand. Prior to the lockdown, the Power and Energy Minister instructed the CPC to cancel the licenses of filling station operators if they failed to comply with the instructions and hoarded stocks to create an artificial shortage. Long queues were seen at filling stations across the country before curfew was imposed last month owing to the fear of a scarcity. However, the plight of the daily wage earners who fall into the category of low income earners is precarious due to the absence of work.  They have no means of purchasing food apart from other essential items and as a result many have been forced to go hungry to bed.Despite the assurance and rhetoric of uninterrupted supply of food and other essential items in the country, residents in certain districts claim that local authorities have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their calls.