Kerosene subsidy to cost Govt. Rs. 300 m.
The Government will spend up to Rs.300 million annually on providing kerosene concessions for almost 600,000 Samurdhi beneficiaries, said Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M. Fowzie.
After the Government approved the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) proposal for a Rs.16 hike on a litre of kerosene, many low income families were affected.
Minister Fowzie said the Special Ministerial sub-committee, which overlooks the cost of living issue, had not yet prepared a formula by which these concessions would be given. “There are some low income families who have still have not received the benefits from the Samurdhi programme. Some have been deprived of this even due to political reasons,” he said.
He said the special committee would be meeting on Tuesday to discuss the problem and devise a structure by which the Samurdhi beneficiaries will be able to receive these concessions.
A Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) spokesman told The Sunday Times about 32% of households in Sri Lanka do not have electricity and depend on kerosene for lighting purposes.
He said most of those families cannot afford electricity or live in areas which have not been supplied with electricity.
However, through the Samurdhi programme about half a million people will receive concessions on kerosene while the rest will have to purchase kerosene at the present price of Rs.61 per litre.
Meanwhile, the Government is also looking into the possibility of providing fuel subsidies for three-wheeler driver-owners, as they were recognized as a low income group.
All-island three-wheel drivers’ welfare association president Lalith Dharmasekera said the Government would only increase profits of three-wheeler drivers while the public would be burdened with the increased fuel prices.
“As a three-wheeler driver gets a profit from each litre he purchases, he is entitled to increase the fares he charges from his passengers to make up for the increased fuel prices,” he said. He said that by providing these subsidies, the Government was only encouraging greedy drivers to charge even more and increase their personal profits, while commuters were being deceived.