SLPP eats humble pie over fuel price hike statement
Posted on June 20th, 2021

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The statement put out by SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna)  General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, critical of Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila over the latest fuel price hike, laid bare once again factions and frictions  in the government .


It is commonsense that the fuel price hikes cannot be enforced without sanction of the Finance Ministry. The subject ministry can make recommendations, but it is finally the collective decision of the government under usual circumstances. The recent spike of fuel prices to reflect increases in the world market is no exception to the rule.  It, however, added to the woes of people who are already battered by the pandemic-related restrictions in pursuit of their livelihood activities. A public outcry is naturally expected against the fuel price revision, a move having ripple effects in various sectors of the economy. 

“The Prime Minister is the leader of the SLPP.  In reality, its political activities are operated by its National Organizer Basil Rajapaksa. Therefore, the story in the rumour mills is that Mr. Kariyawasam worked out this statement at the behest of Basil Rajapaksa”

The SLPP is the governing party. Therefore, it would have been privy to circumstances that led to the upward revision of fuel prices. Still, Sagara Kariyawasam released this statement trying to blame the price revision solely on Minister Gammanpila.  The government came under severe criticism by the general public after the price hike which will result in the rise of cost of living at the end. Already, the prices of bakery products have gone up, and, so will be passenger transport fares. Mr. Kariyawasam, would have attempted to palm off the responsibility on one minister, absolving the government of it. The SLPP General Secretary, in his statement issued under the party’s letterhead said Minister Gammanpila’s approach only led to the government increasing the prices. 


Nevertheless, facts are facts.  It is the collective decision taken by the government through the cost of living committee chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.  As such, the Minister had the valid points to counter Mr. Kariyawasam’s statement.  He did it with vigour at a press conference the very next day. Besides, he got a shot in the arm when the President’s Office also defended the fuel price revision.  The President’s Media Division (PMD) issued a press statement justifying the decision. The PMD said a spike was warranted by the present local and global
economic realities. 


No matter what, the blame game amply displays internecine warfare within the government. The SLPP has been at loggerheads with its minor allies such as Minister Gammanpila’s Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) and Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s party for some time.  It turned out to be obvious particularly when the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted last year.  In some instances, the leaders like Minister Weerawansa became of the subject of vilification and slander by the SLPP legislators, particularly the newcomers, both in and outside Parliament. The latest incident on the fuel price is just an amplification of strife between the SLPP and its allies.

“Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the main opposition, has responded to the situation by opting to move a no confidence motion against Minister Gammanpila. For the SJB, as a force opposed to the ruling side, have reasons for such a step”

The alliance partners have now formed into a group to muster collective strength to respond to the SLPP.  Eight such parties came out with a statement condemning Mr. Kariyawasam’s statement.  The Prime Minister is the leader of the SLPP.  In reality, its political activities are operated by its National Organizer Basil Rajapaksa. Therefore, the story in the rumour mills is that Mr. Kariyawasam worked out this statement at the behest of Basil Rajapaksa.  Senior SLPPers such as Agriculture   Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage gave rise to such speculation. No one has yet denied such involvement of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa who is currently in the United States. Finally, the SLPP had to eat humble pie when it became established that Mr. Kariyawasam’s statement was unacceptable. 


At a press conference on Tuesday, State Minister Arundika Fernando extended an apology to Minister Gammanpila. It looks like that Mr. Kariyawasam is isolated with no one for his defence in the case.   
Now, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the main opposition, has responded to the situation by opting to move a no confidence motion against Minister Gammanpila. For the SJB, as a force opposed to the ruling side, have reasons for such a step.   First, it can take the government to task both on the fuel price region during the debate on the no confidence motion once it is placed before Parliament. Likewise, the debate will afford the main opposition and others to mock at the government over its
internal squabbling.  

“The SLPP is the governing party. Therefore, it would have been privy to circumstances that led to the upward revision of fuel prices. Still, Sagara Kariyawasam released this statement trying to blame the price revision solely on Minister Gammanpila”

But, it is difficult to win the motion unseating the Minister from office since it is nowhere near the required majority. The opposition will raise tricky questions which the government will find it difficult to answer convincingly.  The SJB legislators will sneer at the government benchers during the course of the debate, for sure. 
However, despite differences among its own ranks, the government is not placed to allow the no confidence motion against one of its own   ministers being adopted by Parliament.  As such, the government will forget all differences and act for the defeat of the motion if it is put to a vote in the House. In that sense, it will be a factor that unifies the otherwise different of voices of the government. 

6 Responses to “SLPP eats humble pie over fuel price hike statement”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    The dhobis of the Kuhaka Jana Bala Wegaya whose usual day job is washing dirty linen have decided display their unwashed amude’s on a clothe’s line this time for public viewing. When they come up with the hastily crafted ‘no confidence motion’ against Minister Gammanpila they will be exposing only their inability to even properly draft a document on which they all can agree let alone convince the nation.

    It is obvious that the country need a fuel price hike at this juncture, one to bring down the demand and on the other to obtain necessary finances to keep the countries ‘wheels’ well oiled and running. The whole world is in the throes of a world calamity as has not been seen in living memory. It is a multi-dimensional problem that need the support from all quarters of the populace. Not to do that will be cutting off the nose to spite the face!

  2. aloy Says:

    The increase of fuel price is inevitable. This probably is mainly due to the depreciation of the dollar on which the oil price is fixed. And may be the production in US as not come to the previous levels. The mining of crypto currency that takes up about 18% of total fossil fuel consumption (according to Elon Musk et al) may also be another factor. So, the GOSL has to act fast and they have done so to conserve forex.
    But our small time business men and the fisher folk who are the main stay of our economy need some help in the short run.

    One of more thing:
    Looking at the scenes of protests I do not see anybody in the villages in dire straits. They seem well dressed and many are even obese. When we look at how smartly dressed students in remote places like Dimbulagala climb rocks and trees with their smart phone in hand to access internet signals I get the impression that the development is fast reaching every corner of the land. So transforming or enabling it towards a tech savvy nation is just a short step away!.
    Who can do it?. Certainly not with those who swallow a bait hook line and sinker on issues like the sterilized bio fertilizer.

  3. Sarath W Says:

    I think it is time the President takes full control of the government. It is common knowledge there are too many factions in the government parliamentary group and some are determined to promote Namal Baby and sabotage the president’s plans. Gota promised so much with the support of a lot of professionals and intellectuals, but have let down so many of his voters. The promise to protect the war heroes have failed due to the due to the incompetency of the foreign office. Forests are destroyed by crooks protected by political goons, luxury cars for the uneducated crooked MPs when there no money to buy vaccines. Covid response should be handled by the medical professionals with the support of the armed forces and the army commander should not be used to do the work of the president. The president has a clear vision and the SLPP should rally behind him to develop the country.

  4. aloy Says:

    The protests made by the fishermen in Modera should not be taken lightly. They were displaying burnt out fishing nets. Was it true?. If it is so then this is a much more serious situation and confirms what has been pointed out by the panel of UN investigators. There is no time to dily dally and waste time. Some set of people have dealt a death blow to the people of SL and immediate action needs to be taken disregarding the political differences. This to my mind is an attack on humanity by destroying Indian ocean.
    The question is who wanted such a thing to happen?. Indians could not have done this as it affects them too. I may be wrong.

  5. aloy Says:

    It is clear that our enemies have placed their moles around key people of the cabinet. Take the case of ports ministers utterance of measuring temperature of the ship in percentages instead of degrees. I do not think the minister concerned had a clue about how tempersture is meassured. But someone close to him gave the dead rope to his ear to make the whole GOSL a joke.
    Beware of close aids, I say.

  6. Sarath W Says:

    Aloy is right. The biggest problem today is because there are so many undesirable, uneducated crooks and thugs in the parliament. They only think of making money an showing their power. The best way to get rid of them is to get rid of all their perks like luxury vehicles, body guards etc. The constitution should be changed to appoint ministers, state ministers from the professionals from outside the parliament like in the USA. Take the example set by Chancellor Angela Merkel who still lives in her own apartment, has no servants, wears the same suit and lives a simple life.

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