Fuel shortage ignites Cabinet

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 01:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Cabinet subcommittee on the matter to continue investigations
  • Preliminary reports indicate “gross negligence by CPC”
  • Ranatunga under fire for his claims of political pressure to accept substandard IOC fuel, denies making such statements
  • Fresh inquiry by CID


By Chathuri Dissanayake

Following a heated debate over the fuel shortage the country faced last week, the Cabinet yesterday decided to extend the mandate of the ministerial committee appointed to find solutions to the shortage to carry on investigations to determine if acts of sabotage caused the crisis.

The Cabinet-appointed subcommittee headed by Special Assignments Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama yesterday handed over the report on the week-long investigation carried out.

The committee’s investigations have led to the belief that there was “gross negligence by the officials” of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Cabinet has decided to continue investigations into the matter, Dr. Amunugama told the Daily FT.

“The storage capacity of the CPC is 90,000 MT. Even if the 20,000 MT of fuel was not available there was no reason why the CPC was not able to maintain a buffer stock,” said Dr. Amunugama.

Cabinet also decided to initiate a separate inquiry on the matter led by the Criminal Investigation Department, Cabinet Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told Daily FT.

“The subject Minister Ranatunga said he would like the CID to carry out an investigation to determine if there was sabotage,” he said.

Petroleum Resources Minister Arjuna Ranatunga came under fire at the meeting for his comments during the crisis. The Minister during a press conference claimed two ministers exerted undue pressure on him to accept the substandard fuel shipment from the Indian Oil Company (IOC) despite its repeated failure to pass quality tests.

According to highly-placed sources, former Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakkody has criticised his successor for the comments, and demanded Ranatunga name the ministers, pointing out that such comments had a negative impact on everyone. 

Further, the former cricketing hero was also criticised for pinning the blame on IOC for the fuel shortage. Weerakkoddy was joined by a number of ministers in their criticism of Ranatunga’s conduct as the subject minister, pointing out the decision to cancel three tenders to purchase oil had an impact on the fuel shortage, not the IOC shipment.

Faced with criticism, Ranatunga has flatly denied making such comments, sources said. However, Ranatunga had been asked to correct his statements by the Cabinet as a damage control measure.