JVP trade union leader Piyasiri Wijenayake, MP yesterday vowed that they wouldn?t allow the hotly disputed government-Bharat deal on Treasury-held shares of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
The Kalutara District MP in charge of the Marxist party?s trade union organisation accused the government of conspiring to transfer one third of CPC shares, currently held by the Treasury, to the Indian company for a pittance.
`This is being done under the pretext of strengthening the petroleum sector,` he said, emphasising their commitment to block the sale of the remaining CPC shares and the so-called restructuring of the Ceylon Electricity Board. `The proposed restructuring is nothing more than a naked attempt to split the CEB into nine privately-owned parts,` he said.
The remaining shares, one third each is held by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Ceypetco. Wijenayake acknowledged that the agreement that paved the way for IOC?s entry had prohibited one party from taking control of more than 33 percent of CPC shares. Replying to questions, he revealed that a Cabinet Sub Committee had proposed the establishment of a government financed company (similar to Lak Pohora) to take over the slice held by the Treasury. `Unfortunately, there are interested parties hell-bent on privatising all national assets,` he said, adding, `They have a different agenda.`
In a bid to mislead and confuse those opposing the deal, the government had claimed that they would transfer only 49 percent of the Treasury-held shares. `That?s a blatant lie,` he said.
He expressed the belief that all trade unions, irrespective of their political affiliations, would back their action against privatisation moves.
He is also confident that the majority of the government parliamentary group would stand by the JVP.
He rapped Power and Energy Minister Susil Premjayanth for going back on his pledge. While acknowledging that Premjayanth was under tremendous pressure from Treasury bigwigs and certain politicians, Wijenayaka said Premjayanth shouldn?t yield to pressure.
The JVP, at a meeting chaired by its leader Somawansa Amarasinghe over the weekend had decided to exert maximum pressure on the government.
Wijenayake said that they sought a meeting with Premjayanth ahead of a Special Cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday evening, to iron out their differences. He expressed the belief that they would be able to avoid resorting to crippling trade union action, which would trigger a major crisis.