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Sunday June 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka power regulatory chief accuses state-run CPC of wrong crude import

ECONOMYNEXT – An explosive allegation by the head of Sri Lanka’s utility regulatory authority on the quality of a recently imported crude oil consignment has led to a swift defence and a promise of legal action by the minister in charge.

Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake told a privately owned television station on Sunday September 25 that the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had imported the wrong crude oil with the wrong composition.

Ratnayake claimed the unsuitability of the naphtha refined from this consignment with its high sulphur content was the reason for a recent extension in Sri Lanka’s scheduled daily power cuts from one hour and 20 minutes to two hours and 20 minutes.

Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara tweeted Monday morning that the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had requested the extension due to a breakdown at the Lakshapana hydro-power station and insufficient funds for diesel, fuel oil and hydro management.

The CPC will respond legally to the PUCSL chairman on the allegation, said Wijsekarara, claiming that the corporation has adequate stocks of diesel and fuel oil.

The minister later tweeted that diesel and furnace oil is used at a minimum to reduce power generation costs and will be made available by the CPC on requirement by the CEB.

The power regulator had initially refused a CEB request to increase the power cut duration on the grounds that CEB did not provide a proper justification for the request, but approval was granted later.

“There are many reasons for [the extension] but they have imported the wrong crude oil and have refined the wrong naphtha out of it,” said Rathnayake speaking in a talk show aired on the privately owned Hiru TV.

“This naphtha has high sulfur content, so we are unable to run the plants using this oil.”

He blamed the CPC for the mishap and said that a new problem comes up every month.

“You can’t even run the plant using that crude oil. The only option left for the importers is to drink it,” he said.

“The people who imported the oil should decide what should be done to the oil. We don’t know when Sri Lanka will see 24 hours of continuous electricity because there is a new issue created constantly.”

Ratnayake also claimed that the island could face up to 10 hours of power cuts if it runs out of coal.

He said only 250,000 metric tons of coal is available in the country.

To run a coal power plant for 24 hours, 2,500 metric tons of coal is required.

The official warned that the current stock will run out by the last week of October while the island doesn’t have dollars to purchase fuel as suppliers only accept advance payments. (Colombo/Sep26/2022)

Comments (2)

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    Undoubtedly this was a bare face and naked robbery in the open, where those responsible people knew the specs and should have stood firm against such purchase. They should now be prosecuted and made to pay the damages and this investigation and prosecution be given priority. What the hell is this and who the hell are they?

  2. sacre blieu says:

    How did they get past the pre-sampling of the crude on arrival prior to accepting the cargo. There has been a dirty hand in this and we can no longer trust the quality checks . the high content of Sulphur is damaging and is well known in the trade and the use of it by the officials of the CPC is totally a criminal act.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. sacre blieu says:

    Undoubtedly this was a bare face and naked robbery in the open, where those responsible people knew the specs and should have stood firm against such purchase. They should now be prosecuted and made to pay the damages and this investigation and prosecution be given priority. What the hell is this and who the hell are they?

  2. sacre blieu says:

    How did they get past the pre-sampling of the crude on arrival prior to accepting the cargo. There has been a dirty hand in this and we can no longer trust the quality checks . the high content of Sulphur is damaging and is well known in the trade and the use of it by the officials of the CPC is totally a criminal act.

Sri Lanka state airport agency swimming in cash after sovereign default

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd is swimming in cash after a sovereign default halted debt repayments allowing it to post a profit of 29.7 billion rupees with 10.4 billion rupees in interest income, official data showed.

In April 2022 Sri Lanka declared a sovereign default after printing large volumes of money over more than two years to enforce rate cuts and blowing the biggest hole in the balance of payments in the history of the island’s money printing central bank.

Interest earnings of Airport and Aviation Services also shot up to 10.4 billion rupees in 2023 from 6.1 billion in 2022 and 3.3 billion rupees in 2021 before the sovereign default.

Under the terms of the default or ‘debt suspension’, state agencies like the Airport and Aviation Services, and Sri Lanka Port Authority were also not required to service loans, even if they had the cash to repay loans.

AASL’s finance income shot up in 2023 “mainly because the company has invested surplus cash saved by not servicing the foreign loans obtained by the company due to the temporary debt moratorium policy of the country,” the Finance Ministry said in a report.

Sri Lanka’s rupee and foreign currency interest rates also shot up in 2022 and 2023 as rate cuts enforced by money printing were lifted to clear anchor conflicts.

After inflationary rate cuts kill confidence in a currency triggering capital flight and parallel exchange rates, excessively high rates are needed to kill domestic credit and stabilize the currency.

Countries with such flawed operating frameworks in central banks tend to have chronic high nominal interest rates in any case.

AASL’s rupee revenues went up to 48.8 billion rupees in 2023 from 32.2 billion rupees in 2022 as passenger movements increased to 7.5 million from 5.5 million with a recovery in tourism and local traffic.

Sri Lanka’s currency crisis hit in 2022 just as the island was recovering from Coronavirus pandemic triggering fuel shortages and power cuts as money printing triggered forex shortages.

From 2022 March the rupee collapsed from 200 to 370 levels an attempt to float the rupee was failed by a surrender rule (a type of buy-side pegging which pushes the exchange rate down).

In 2023, after hiking rates to kill credit, the surrender rule was removed, leading to a currency appreciation.

The airport agency also made an exchange gain of 6.1 billion rupees in 2023 against an exchange loss of 10.5 billion rupees in 2022 the rupee appreciated. (Colombo/June16/2024)

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Sri Lanka car import relaxing roadmap given to IMF: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has submitted a roadmap on relaxing vehicle imports to the International Monetary Fund, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siymabalapitiya said as the country recovers from the worst currency crises in the history of its central bank.

The import relaxation will allow vehicles for public transport, goods transport, then motor cycles and cars use by private individuals and after that, luxury cars, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

Luxury cars however attract the highest taxes for each dollar spent on imports.

Economic analysts have characterized vehicle import controls as a ‘cascading policy error’ that follows inflationary rate cuts, which then deprive taxes to the state and triggers more money printing and more forex shortages, requiring even higher corrective interest rates and a contraction of economic activities to save the rupee.

According to the latest IMF report car import controls may have led to revenue losses of 0.7 to 0.9 percent of GDP.

Sri Lanka started controlling imports few years after a central bank was set up in 1950 and also tightened exchange controls progressively, so that macroeconomists using post-1920 spurious monetary doctrines taught at Anglophone universities could print money through various mechanisms to suppress rates.

Sri Lanka is working with the IMF as a guide on many issues and the roadmap was submitted to the agency on June 14, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

The IMF in an economic report released last week the plan was expected to be submitted by June 15.

Whatever the IMF’s faults, which some wags have called ‘progressive Saltwaterism’, the agency does not advocate import controls as solution to balance of payments problems, despite a Mercantilist fixation with the current account deficit in countries with reserve collecting central banks, analysts say.

Import controls have the same effect as import substation on the balance of payments, which is none, classical economists have pointed out and is now mainly a problem associated with macro economists and economic bureaucrats of so-called basket case countries.

Any pressure on the currency or missed reserves targets in the IMF program has come in the past only if the central bank printed money to suppress rates as credit growth picked up from car imports.

Sri Lanka had 3,000 items under import controls when rates were suppressed with printed money from 2020 to 2022 but eventually ended up with the worst currency crisis triggered by macro economists in the history of the country and eventual external default.

A committee made up of the Department of Trade and Fiscal Policy of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles, the Central Bank and two associations representing vehicle imports were appointed to come up with the roadmap, he said. (Colombo/June15/2024)

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Chitrasiri Committee presents draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket

ECONOMYNEXT – A draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body for cricket in the island, prepared by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge K T Chitrasiri, was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (15).

The Sri Lanka team were ignominiously knocked out of the Men’s T20 World Cup tournament this week, sparking renewed criticism of the team and the governing body.

Last November, a cabinet sub-committee was appointed to address challenges faced by Sri Lanka Cricket and provide recommendations after consecutive losses became a hot topic in parliament.

After parliament decided to remove the administrators of the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board suspended Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership.

Based on the sub-committee’s recommendations in its report, the Cabinet then appointed an expert committee to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket.

The committee headed by judge K T Chitrasiri includes President’s Counsel Harsha Amarasekara, Attorney-at-Law Dr Aritha Wickramanayake and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce Duminda Hulangamuwa.

Deputy Solicitor General Manohara Jayasinghe, and Shamila Krishanthi, Assistant Draftsman representing the Legal Draftsman’s Department, and Loshini Peiris, Additional Secretary to the President were also on the committee. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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