“The attempt by the government to hand over national resources to foreign companies and destroy them should be defeated. We have already had long discussions regarding this with the trade unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. Trade unions and political parties should unite to defeat Ranil Wickremesinghe’s selling process. This is a destructive move that should not be allowed to be carried out. We vouch that we would defeat this attempt,” said the Leader of the JVP Parliamentarian Comrade Anura Dissanayaka.
He said this at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP yesterday (11th). The Member of the Central Committee Parliamentarian Comrade Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa too was present.
Speaking further Comrade Anura Dissanayaka said, “The oil tank farm at Trincomalee is to be a main prey of the selling process that is to be carried out by the government. There were 102 oil tanks in the complex and three of them have been damaged. 99 tanks are usable. This complex was built by the British in the 1930s. It was because Trincomalee harbor is the deepest in South East Asia and targeting the fuel market in the South East Asia. Despite the British left Sri Lanka in 1948 the oil tank farm was not handed over to Sri Lanka. In 1957 the government of Sri Lanka paid Sterling Pounds 2,50,000 to take it over from the British.
Each of these tanks has the capacity to store nearly 10,000 metric tons of fuel. If the whole oil tank farm is used 1000000 metric tons of fuel could be stored. Only 400,00 metric tons of fuel could be stored jointly at Muthrajawela and Kolonnawa. As such, this oil tank farm could be used targeting the fuel market. However, Ranil Wickremesinghe government always acts towards selling national resources. In 2003 Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government signed an agreement with India’s IOC to lease the oil tank farm. Since then India’s IOC company managed the oil tank farm. During the 2005 – 2009 period Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has paid Rs. 692 million as lease for IOC company of India. The complex consists of 85 tanks in the upper area and 14 in a lower area. Out of the 99 tanks that are usable only the 14 tanks in the lower area are used at present. During the war fuel was supplied to the North by ship. The fuel for these ships was obtained from the tanks leased out to the IOC. During this period Rs. 692 million was paid to IOC. However, the government received only US$500,000 which is Rs.75 million from IOC as lease for the oil tank farm. It is like renting out a person’s house for Rs.10000 and the same person renting a room of the same house for Rs.1 million.
The likes of Ranil Wickremesinghes always acted not towards protecting the national resources of our country. They always wanted to sell our things. There is a doubt whether the lease agreement of the government to hand over the oil tank farm is legal or not.
On 28.04.2016 Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Chandima Weerakkody presented a cabinet paper. In it he states that the MOU signed between the government and IOC is not valid as IOC did not sign a lease agreement within 6 months which was a condition in the MOU. Accordingly, he makes the following proposals.
1. Handing over the ownership of 16 tanks in the lower section and the relevant lands
2. Direct Department of Lands and Divisional Secretary of Kadawaththa Sathara to carry out the handing over process
3. Direct Central Environmental Authority, Railways Department, Port Authority and Coast Conservation Department to carry out the process of taking over within a short time
4. Direct a task force to prepare a business plan for the tanks in the upper section of the farm.
This cabinet paper was passed on 1st June, 2016. From the cabinet paper and the cabinet approval it is confirmed that the oil tank farm doesn’t belong to IOC. After this cabinet paper and after all was approved, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who’s main talent is selling national resources, presents another cabinet paper. On 6th June, 2016 he proposes to hand over the operations of the tanks in the upper section to a joint venture between IOC and CPC. He proposes to cancel the proposals adopted at the cabinet that met on 24.05.2016.
This is not Prime Minister’s subject. However, he presents a cabinet paper. They chant joint venture story. Again the Minister of Power and Energy and the Minister of Petroleum Resources Development present a cabinet paper asking to take over 16 tanks. This is also approved on 06.12.2016.
Even when it is confirmed that India’s IOC has no claim for the asset Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presents cabinet papers in an attempt to hand it over to India’s IOC.
According to information we have received The Minister of International Trade Malik Samarawickreme is scheduled to go to India in April this year. He is to sign an agreement to hand over the oil tank farm to IOC. As handing over in 2003 has been challenged they are planning the new move.
The latest prey of the Ranil – Maithri government’s attempt to hand over state assets and natural resources to foreign companies is the oil tank farm at Trincomallee.
According to a CPC report the oil tank farm could be utilized to distribute fuel to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Jaffna, Mullaithivu, Killinochchi, Vavuniya, Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. Currently fuel is distributed to these areas from Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela. It states if fuel could be unloaded at Trincomalee Harbour, store in the oil tank farm and distribute to these areas from there Rs. 618 million could be saved annually.
Also, it takes two weeks to unload a fuel ship in Colombo Harbour. This could be done in a week at Trincomallee. This would reduce shipping expenses. Rs. 1000 million profit could be obtained from this oil tank farm only by unloading, storing and distribution of fuel. People in this country could be benefited by it. However, the government’s attempt is to hand over the benefits to India’s IOC.
The attempt by the government to sell national resources to foreign companies should be defeated. We have already had long discussions regarding this with the trade unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. Trade unions and political parties should unite to defeat Ranil Wickremesinghe’s selling process. This is a destructive move that should not be allowed to be carried out. We vouch that we would defeat this attempt.”