ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s environment minister Mahinda Amaraweera has submitted a cabinet paper proposing that electric vehicles be prioritised when resuming vehicle imports, the minister said, amid an ongoing power crisis on top of a dollar shortage.
Speaking at an event in Kandy on Monday (24), Amaraweera said the proposal was made in line with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s commitment towards renewable energy.
“I’m happy to note that in the president’s recent speech and at the policy statement in parliament, he has reiterated his commitment that when importing vehicles again, to focus more on electronic vehicles over those that burn fossil fuels,” said Amaraweera.
Sri Lanka has an ongoing import ban on vehicles, with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa stating in December that no new vehicles will be imported in 2022. However, President Rajapaksa in his policy statement to parliament last Monday (18) said the government will allow the resumption of vehicle imports in the future, with priority given to electric vehicles.
“When we allow the import of vehicles in the future, we hope to give priority to electric vehicles. Accordingly, we should plan to use renewable energy sources as much as possible when supplying electricity to vehicles,” he said.
The president also noted that about 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual import expenditure is allocated for oil imports.
“When the total export earnings are less than 1,000 million US dollars a month, we have to spend about 350 million a month on oil alone. About 70 percent of the imported fuel is used as fuel for vehicles. It costs about 21 percent to generate electricity. Only 4 percent is used for industry,” he said.
The government’s emphasis on electric vehicles comes amid a power crisis, with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)’s engineering union warning consumers of daily outages of nearly two hours starting Monday.
The power crisis has been triggered by a shortage in fuel and furnace oil supply to the CEB’s thermal generation plants by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) amid a forex shortage for imports and insufficient water levels at reservoirs for hydro power generation, on top of a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant. (Colombo/Jan24/2022)