ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

Fuel may add to COL fire

By Isuri Kaviratne

Despite the increase of diesel and petrol prices, the Government has not yet decided to increase bus and railway fares, although the loss to the Stae would be around Rs. 10 billion per year, Transport Ministry Secretary Nihal Somaweera said.“We will have no alternative if fuel prices increase further,” he said.

Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) General Manager D. R. Pulleperuma said that though the decision to increase the electricity tariff has not yet been confirmed, CEB losses per day would increase by Rs. 56 million in addition to the present daily loss.

Vegetables being unloaded from a lorry at the Manning Market. Pic by Berty Mendis

“We are calculating the difference between the expenditure before the increase of the fuel price and the present expenditure and will forward a report to the Government to take the final decision,” he said.

“The Government will take the ultimate decision whether to suffer a further loss or to increase the tariff,” Mr. Pulleperuma added.

A Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) official claimed there would definitely be a loss to SLR as its monthly consumption of diesel was 2.4 million litres.

The increase in diesel prices will cost an additional Rs 7.2 million per month though the decision to increase the railway fare lies with the Government, he said.Private Bus Owners’ Association secretary V. S. P. Liyanage said bus operators have not decided to increase bus fares, though they may increase fares in June this year, according to the National Fare Policy being practised.

“The fuel price should increase by 4% to effect a bus fare increase so we have to bear the loss, but in June there will definitely be an increase”, he said. Meanwhile, an official of the Southern Province Private Bus Operators Federation said that if the Government did not reduce taxes from bus owners, they were left with no option but to increase the bus fares.

He said bus operators have to take this decision to cover their expenditure even though it may be against the National Fare Policy.

“We will discuss and take a decision before the end of this month”, he said. J. R. Perera, a lorry owner who transports vegetables to the Manning Market said that with the increase of the diesel price by Rs.3 per litre, the loss would be at least Rs. 75 per day.

D. Weerasekara another lorry owner said that though the fuel price had been increased seven times this year, lorry owners have not yet been able to cover their expenses, as the vegetable prices never went up enough to cover them.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.