Over Rs. 2.5 bn paid as overtime at closed Sapugaskanda refinery - Minister | Daily News

Over Rs. 2.5 bn paid as overtime at closed Sapugaskanda refinery - Minister

Refinery scheduled to resume operations on August 15 again

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told Parliament yesterday that between Rs. 2.5 billion and Rs.3 billion have been paid as overtime allowance to the workers of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery during the last few months.

He said an investigation would be carried out on who was paid the overtime allowance and a report on the outcome of the investigation would be submitted to Parliament.

He said this in response to a question posed by Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella who claimed that overtime amounting to around Rs. 4 billion had been paid to workers despite the oil refinery being closed. “This is a grave crime,”he added.

However, Minister Wijesekara said that he too had seen this news in the media and had looked into it, acknowledging that between Rs. 2.5 to 3 billion had been paid as overtime. He said that the oil refinery had only been closed during last month and prior to that fuel distribution to the health ministry and several other essential services had taken place during March and April and that workers working on weekends need to be paid overtime.

Yet, he agreed that payments need to be managed to some extent at least and agreed to look into the matter.

The Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery is scheduled to resume operations on August 15.

Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said they are expecting a crude oil shipment to arrive in the country on Saturday.

He told parliament that once the shipment arrives, they will resume operations at the Refinery.

The Minister noted that it takes two to three days to produce kerosene oil.

The Energy Minister noted that they have taken a decision to continuously supply kerosene oil from August 19.

Wijesekara said that from August 19 of this month kerosene oil could be continuously supplied without any issue.

Commenting further, the minister said, “Last month kerosene production was lost due to the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery being closed. As a result, the kerosene supply for the past four weeks could not be met. However, we managed to supply the fisheries harbors through some reserve stocks we had.”

The Energy Minister said bus operators purchased stocks released for the fishing community in some instances and private buses have been running with kerosene oil instead of diesel.

Minister Wijesekera added it is unsustainable to sell a litre of kerosene oil at Rs.87, adding that the government’s attention is also focused on revising the price of kerosene oil.

The Minister stressed that a programme will be formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Finance to provide relief to the fishing community, plantation industries, and other low-income earners once the price of kerosene oil is revised.


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