Distribute 60% gas to Colombo and Gampaha

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The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) recommended that Litro distribute 60 per cent of the daily Gas Cylinders to the Colombo and Gampaha Districts for next week, where the public are facing difficulty in using alternative sources.

Litro officials were summoned on Friday (20), before COPE, following a request by Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe. The PM said he needed a report on the delay of distributing gas this week despite instructions.The officials told the COPE that the delay was caused by bad weather conditions. As a result the buoy could not be connected to Muthurajawela plant and the shipment had to be taken to the Colombo Port. However, the company would be able to restore the supply without any further delay, they said.

It was also revealed during the meeting that apart from the forex crisis, halting of the term tenders to purchase gas on 28 February was the reason for the current gas shortage in the country.

The term tenders were halted following the instructions of the Finance Ministry. The Ministry informed to halt the tenders as it was working to purchase gas from another company, the officials said.

It was discussed in-depth whether the Finance Ministry gave this instruction in writing. The COPE said that the company officials will be summoned again to discuss this matter further.

Furthermore, the officials told the COPE that Rs 15 billion possessed by the company has dried up as a result of the failure to increase gas prices in accordance with the global market prices. This caused huge losses and owing to this, the company is in debt to the tune of Rs 11 billion to the banks.

The company will use USD120 million from the Indian credit line of USD 160 million to purchase gas. With this arrangement the gas shortage in the local market will be resolved and gas supplies would be good enough for three months. Litro Chairman Wijitha Herath said, the company expects to use USD 80 million loan from the World Bank for term tenders. 

The COPE instructed the company to take immediate steps to resolve the current gas crisis and look into the possibility of obtaining financial assistance from Sri Lanka Insurance under which the company operates. 

It was also advised that the Litro hotline 1311 be made a service that operates 24/7.

BY Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake