The Ministry of Finance and Planning has failed to pay back Rs. 309 billion owed by the Treasury to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), which has created a grave financial impasse affecting the day-to-day running of the Corporation, Power and Energy Ministry sources revealed
The accumulated losses which have amounted to Rs 338 billion by the end of 2014, was further aggravated with the new regime’s fuel price revision which had caused a further loss of Rs 6.2 billion during the first five months of the year, ballooning CPCs debt to a shocking Rs. 244 billion.
The allegedly miscalculated price revision which took effect from midnight January 21 this year, reduced price of a litre of petrol to Rs 15 more than what should have been reduced in order to CPC to break-even and as such was making a loss of Rs 15 per litre of petrol sold at pump. Accordingly, although the price of a litre of standard 92-octane petrol should have ideally been reduced to Rs. 132 from Rs. 150, due to the miscalculation it was reduced to Rs. 117 while the price of 95-octane petrol should have ideally come down to Rs 143 from Rs. 158, it too was reduced to Rs. 128 instead due to oversight.
This unnecessary reduction led to a surge in demand with more and more consumers using private vehicles, skyrocketing fuel consumption by nearly 30%. According to the Ministry of Power and Energy Secretary, Dr Suren Batagoda, sales of 92 octane petrol had shot up 18.3% or 438,240 litres to 2,837,890 litres in April 2015 from 2,399,650 litres the year before while sales of 95 octane petrol rose 51% to 269,060 litres over the same period.
A litre of Lanka Auto Diesel and Lanka Super Diesel which were Rs. 111 and Rs.138 respectively per litre were lowered to Rs. 95 and Rs. 110 per litre , while kerosene has come down from Rs. 81 to Rs. 65 per litre. Accordingly, Super Diesel sales went up 48% to 143,000 litres in April 2015 compared to the same month in 2014 while Auto Diesel sales rose by 241,670 litres or 6.5% to 3.97 million litres from a year ago. During the period under review, sales of kerosene rose by 10.8 percent to 414,590 litres in April 2015 as against the same month in 2014.
According to CPC, forecast revenue loss were over Rs 80 billion during the first three months following the tariff cut.
Both the Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and Auditor General have repeatedly chastized CPC due to lack of comprehensive procurement policy, weaknesses when complying with procurement procedure, failure to carry out reliable laboratory tests on time, lack of coherent communication and preparedness to meet the challenge of a volatile market, overpayments, delays in planning orders for procurement of petroleum products, uneconomical blending of high and low octane petrol etc.