According to the President of PUCSL, fuel could be sold for much less money. Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), told the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) that fuel in Sri Lanka could be sold at significantly lower prices.
According to the data, petrol and diesel can be purchased in Sri Lanka for around Rs. 250, according to Mr. Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL).
He stated this in Parliament when the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) met under the chairmanship of Member of Parliament (Prof.) Charita Herath to examine the Auditor General’s report for the years 2018 and 2019, as well as the current performance of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Rathnayake went on to say that this is revealed when looking at statistics on petroleum import prices and government taxes. As a result, he stated that petrol and diesel can be obtained in Sri Lanka for Rs. 200 less than the current price. According to this, petrol and diesel can be purchased for around Rs. 250. He also stated that the government collected Rs. 280 in taxes for each liter of diesel imported on July 1st.
He stated that this is his personal opinion and that the statement was made after reviewing the data. As a result, the members present asked if the commission’s officials were aware of this, and the officials stated that they were not. It was also stated that the Ministry of Finance was not formally notified of this.
COPE members questioned Mr. Ratnayake on his qualifications for the position of chairman of this commission. He stated that he holds a Special Degree in Public Administration from the University of Sri Jayawardenepura, as well as a Postgraduate Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Colombo. He also stated that he attended Harvard University. He emphasized his political credentials by stating that he has supported the Rajapaksas in forming governments since 2005.
The COPE chairman stated that the statement made by the PUCSL Chairman regarding the fuel price is more serious, and the country’s attention is being drawn to this. As a result, officials from the Ministry of Power and Energy, as well as the Chairman of the PUCSL, are expected to be summoned before the COPE in the future to discuss the matter, according to Prof. Herath.
It was also extensively discussed that the Commission would rent a “Benz” car manufactured in 2005 without fuel or driver from a company called General Business (Private) Ltd for a year beginning on December 7, 2021, without entering into any agreement. Thus, the annual rent for this vehicle was Rs.4,500,000, and on May 31, 2022, the aforementioned company received Rs.2,187,500.
As a result, the Chairman of the COPE recommended that an investigation be conducted and a full report be submitted to the COPE.
Moreover, despite being informed that the PUCSL’s Organization Structure and Salary Structure should be developed in accordance with the National Salary and Cadre Commission’s recommendation and the approval of the Department of Management Services, and that the Finance Minister should submit an amendment to the Cabinet for approval, the committee discussed spending on certain functions without following the above procedure as of the end of 2021.
The COPE committee specifically discussed in detail the fact that Rs. 45,873,483 were paid to the institution’s staff under 11 different types of allowances. The committee also noted that Rs. 86,808,538 of the total operating cost (49 percent of the total amount) had been spent on public awareness campaigns.
The approved electricity generation plan for the years 2018-2037 received special attention. According to the officials present, data on another new generation plan was submitted in 2021 but was not approved because the necessary requirements were not met. The Committee claimed that policies changed as political authorities changed, and that all parties should pay more attention to this.
Furthermore, the commission was tasked with developing and implementing the performance rules under the Electricity (Distribution) Performance Standards Orders, which were mentioned in a special gazette notice issued in 2016. Thus, despite the fact that nearly 4 years have passed since the decree’s implementation, the committee drew attention to the fact that even the adaptation phase, which was supposed to be completed in 2018, has yet to be completed. The officials present stated that this was supposed to be done in three phases over three years, but it has yet to happen due to the need to change the system and problems in the relationships between the parties involved.