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Fuel; People pay for world and Lankan rackets - Editorial  

17 May 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Amid allegations of large-scale corruption, waste, mismanagement and price manipulation by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), we heard the blazing news that the European Union is probing alleged price fixing by the biggest oil companies in the world fuel market estimated at US dollars 3.4 trillion a year.
 Officials of the  European Union said giant oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum were among those being investigated for the huge price fixing which is believed to have been going on for more than 10 years.

Selfishness, greed and acquisitive instinct of those who have billions but want more billions are the horrifying evils that blaze out of the globalised capitalist market economy. We hope the probe by the European Commission will bring relief or benefit to people all over the world because increases in fuel prices affect various other areas of life.  

 In Sri Lanka the latest crisis for the CPC is the shutdown of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery. With the CPC already going through the hellhole of a loss of about Rs. 95 billion last year, a trade union official said the shutdown of the Sapugaskanda refinery would cost the CPC more than Rs. 50 million a day.  

 The UNP-controlled Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya CPC branch leader Ananda Palitha challenged CPC Managing Director Susantha Silva’s reasons for the closing of the Sapugaskanda refinery. He said last year repairs at Sapugaskanda had been carried out on four separate occasions and he saw no reason for another breakdown. The union leader alleged it was part of a conspiracy to buy refined oil from Oman at a price which was about 20 US dollars more than for a barrel of crude oil. On this basis the union leader said the CPC would make a case for another big fuel price increase this year at a time when millions of people are still caught up in the shockwaves of the huge electricity price hikes with a blackout blow expected on May 21. Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha said he would probe the shutdown because he believed the failure to import crude oil until the refinery ran out of stocks was a major issue. We hope the Minister is serious about this probe because far too often we have seen promises made but not promises kept.

Lies, damn lies statistics and the devilry of deception appear to have become part of the operations not only of the regime but also of vital state institutions like the CPC and the Ceylon Electricity Board. Since early last month the CEB has been telling a load of white lies and black lies on the price hike and now it appears that even the highly-publicised announcement made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May Day may be undervalued by the cross currents in the CEB. The President said those using less than 60 units a month would not have to pay any extra charge and those using less than 180 units would get considerable relief. But the CEB and the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka now are telling different stories provoking trade unions of all parties to announce that they were going ahead with a potentially crippling   general strike on May 21. 

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