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Sri Lanka to draft new Fossil Fuel Resource Development Act

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will draft a new Fossil Fuel Resource Development Act to create a new legal framework for local fossil fuel and natural gas expedition and production industries, co-cabinet spokesman Udaya Gammanpila said.

Despite often-repeated claims going back to the 1960s that Sri Lanka has its own fossil fuel and natural gas reserves, he said, no one has attempted to extract it from the ground.

“We wanted to know why we continue to be in debt to the world when there is such a precious resource underground,” Gammanpila, who is also Minister of Power, sad at the weekly cabinet press briefing this morning.

His ministry was able to identify three important facts from their research, he said. Since no past government had a proper policy regarding fossil fuel and natural gas, the present Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) government gazetted a fresh policy last October.

The second point, Gammanipla said, investments in the fossil fuel sector amount to millions or billions of US dollars and there was no proper legal framework to protect such large investments.

Thirdly, he said, the minister of power had had all the regulatory powers as regulator of the sector but did not have an expert committee to provide recommendations and advice relevant to the industry.

“Since 1960s, the Minister of Power had all the regulatory power and we realised that a single person having such power was a barrier for world renowned companies to be attracted to Sri Lanka,” he said.

Gammanpila further said that through the new act, which will cancel the existing Fossil Fuel Resources Act no 26 of 2003, the powers of the minister will be transferred to a Mineral Resources Authority. An expert committee will also be appointed, he added. (Colombo/Jan26/2021)

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