Sri Lanka parliament nods to liberalize petroleum sector amid protests 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka parliament endorsed an amendment to existing petroleum law on Tuesday (18) to eliminate monopoly enjoyed by loss-making state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) amid protest by its employees.

The Petroleum Products Special Provision Bill Amendment was passed with 77 voted for against 17 in the 225-member parliament.

“This will allow global suppliers to enter as retail operators, eliminate CPC monopoly on Jet Fuel & liberalize energy sector,” Kanchana Wijesekera, the Minister of Power and Energy said in his twitter feed.

The government move comes after the country saw violent protests from March to July due to shortage of fuel following  former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration failed in its economic policies and foreign exchange management.

The CPC could not import fuel because it did not have US dollars. The failure also forced for an extended power cut – as much as 13 hours per day.

Hundreds of CPC employees were on sick leave as a protest against the new amendment citing that the minister was trying to sell the state assets to foreign firms despite the CPC has made profits in July and August.

Data showed the CPC’s losses have surpassed over 600 billion so far due to subsidies given in the past and over due from other state enterprises like Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

Minister Wijesekera, responding to the warnings of trade unions said  Petroleum services had been declared as an essential services for the last 6 months.

“If any employee or trade union is found breaching the essential services regulations and disrupting services, immediate legal and disciplinary action will be taken against them.” (Colombo/Oct18/2022)

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