Discount petrol only if passengers benefit

3-wheeler operators may have to instal meters or agree to coupon scheme
By Madhushala Senaratne

Three-wheeler operators hoping to enjoy special concessionary rates for petrol may have to first fix meters on their vehicles or obtain coupons, according to Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena.

Under a new scheme, three-wheeler operators are entitled to Rs. 1,500 or a maximum 75 litres of petrol a month at Rs. 20 less than the regular price per litre, the Minister said.

The introduction of meters or a coupon system would help ensure that passengers also benefited from the concessionary pricing with lower fares, the Minister said. “Only operators who adopted such measures will receive petrol at a reduced price,” he said.

S. R. Attygalle, director general of the Department of Fiscal Policy, at the Ministry of Finance and Planning, said discussions were under way with the relevant stakeholders, including the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, local governing bodies and three-wheeler associations. The proposed coupon scheme, under which three-wheeler drivers or operators would be paid up to Rs. 1,500 per month, will be similar to the Samurdhi card scheme.

“We need a practical system,” Mr. Attygalle said. “We are presently discussing various issues relating to the scheme, such as where the coupons will be sold, how they will be used, whether only designated petrol stations will be allowed to sell petrol at concessionary rates, and how local bodies can be involved in regulating the process.”

Lalith Dharmasekera, president of the All Island Three Wheeler Drivers’ Welfare Association, doubted the effectiveness of the coupon system.

“This is an outdated system,” he said. “Coupons have been used for other purposes in the past, but have not proved very effective. There are other, more up-to-date schemes we could adopt, such as opening bank accounts for registered drivers or operators and paying them the Rs. 1,500 that way,” he said.

Mr. Dharmasekera said the first step would be to register all three-wheeler drivers. “Putting meters on all three-wheelers will ensure that passengers also benefit from the price reduction,” he said. “Currently only about 35 three-wheelers operate on a meter system in the Western province.”

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