A committee to look into the foreign exchange lost to the country due to the waste oil racket
Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 12:06 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Sept 01, Colombo: Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has decided to appoint a special committee to study the issue of recovering foreign exchange dollars lost to the country through the waste fuel oil racket.
Minister Amaraweera held a zoom discussion with the relevant authorities at the Ministry of Environment yesterday (31) regarding the massive smuggling of waste fuel oil from ships arriving in the country.
Officials from the Marine Environment Protection Authority, Central Environmental Authority, Ministry of Environment, Department of Fiscal Policy, Department of Import and Export Control, Sri Lanka Customs and others participated in the discussion.
It has been confirmed that the country loses a large amount of foreign exchange annually in dollars through the irregularities in the disposal of used oil from ships and the irregularities in the process.
Individuals and organizations currently engaged in the disposal of fuel oil are acting outside the internationally followed process. The Minister of Environment pointed out that the country loses a large amount of foreign exchange annually as they buy used fuel oil from ships by paying dollars from the country.
On the one hand, the economic damage caused by improper disposal of used fuel oil, as well as the environmental damage and health impact are high.
“Due to the competition among the few people in the country who are engaged in this business, the country has lost a lot of revenue. According to international law, when a ship sails from one port to another, the destination port must accept the fuel that accumulates on that ship. Also, due to the environmental damage caused to that country, the ship has to pay a certain amount of compensation to the relevant country,” the Minister explained.
However, the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera pointed out that what has happened in our country so far is the purchase of the used fuel oil, a waste that is disposed of by ships.
Therefore, the Minister decided to immediately appoint a committee to look into the matter and propose appropriate action.
He also said that Sri Lanka should study the prices charged by other countries for the disposal of fuel oil from ships and make arrangements to charge such a fee, especially in dollars.
The Minister also said that only those who have the facilities to refine the fuel should be given the opportunity to issue licenses for the process of disposing of the fuel. Currently only two companies have such refining facilities.
The Minister suggested that the committee appointed for this purpose should study these matters and prepare a Cabinet Memorandum and take steps to formalize the disposal of fuel oil with the approval of the Cabinet. All the officials who participated in the discussion acknowledged that this process has been going on informally for decades but the failure to take any action in this regard has had a huge impact on the country’s economy and the environment as well as public health.