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Could have managed fuel shortage if not for the panic – Arjuna

Minister of Petroleum Resources Development, Arjuna Ranatunga, says that an oil tanker with 40,000 metric tonnes of petrol is expected to reach the country on November 8 and that existing stocks are adequate until November 09.

A shortage of fuel has been reported across the country with a large
number of fuel stations running out of petrol and long queues reported at others since Friday (3) evening, after the country had rejected a substandard consignment of petrol. 

“We had enough stocks till the 9th. So if this panic button didn’t come through we could have managed it properly,” the minister said, speaking to reports in Colombo on Monday (6).

Ranatunga said that is the reason they never had a problem in the first two days. “But after these messages, SMS and some other internet issues, they were trying to create an issue and some of the unions were trying to politicize this. But unfortunately it affected the masses.” 

“But that is the reason that we kept our mouth shut and we wanted to try and get this thing sorted out as much as possible. And that’s the reason that we thought okay now that it’s going beyond our control we should inform the public through media,” he said.

The minister said that had they not rejected the shipment of substandard petrol in question, the consequences would have been far worse.

“We rejected this particular shipment because it was not good enough for the country. And repercussions might have been worse if we got this thing into the country.”

“I’m very sorry that this particular issue happened, but I know how to sort it out,” he said. 

Asked as to why there is no proper mechanism put in place to deal with such situations, Ranatunga said that he agrees with that assessment and that he will not be afraid to take appropriate decisions.

“I totally agree. I’m only three months here. I was at the port and now that I’m here but some of the things when I come to a ministry I cannot change overnight. You need a little time to settle down and analyze all these things.”

“You wait and see now that I know how to take decisions. I’m not a person who is scared to take decisions. If it is the best for the country I will take any decisions I don’t care what people say.”

“If I can inform the President and the Prime Minister and get their blessings and if it is good for the public I’ll take any decision for the betterment of the country,” he said.