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Energy Ministry CEB and PUCSL in a no win tug of war

Sri Lanka’s proposed electricity price increase for the second time in five months by around 60 to 65 percent in accordance with the pricing formula has resulted in a tug of war due to the single handed protest of Public Utilities Commission chairman Janaka Rathnayake.

Following the power play between the Public Utilities Commission, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the Power and Energy Ministry, the subject Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday explained the current status of the sector surrounding the inability to provide continuous power supply during GCE Advanced Level examinations.

Citing five points via Twitter, he underscored the ground realities of the situation.As of 30 January, the Minister listed down the CEB’s outstanding amounts to key organisations which include; Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Rs. 112 billion, renewable energy suppliers Rs. 40 billion, rooftop solar providers Rs. 4 billion, private power plants Rs. 80 billion, monthly bank loans interest Rs. 10 billion and Rs. 35 billion for coal payments for February.

“The CEB drained available water resources for power generation to have no power cuts at the beginning of 2022 which resulted in 4-6 hour power cuts mid-year. Economic crisis, cash flow management issues and inefficiencies led to fuel shortages that made things worse,” he pointed out.

He also claimed that some politically motivated elements are working towards creating shortages in the fuel supply and further power supply shortages.

“Politically, the most difficult decision for a Government that is facing an election to take is tariff hikes and increase in taxes, which the Government has done,” he added.

Minister Wijesekera said during the time the Government is expediting the reforms needed to make CEB and CPC efficient and cut down on cost ─ it is a must to have cost-reflective pricing for both.

In addition, he noted that a clear plan for an uninterrupted power supply for 2023 has been submitted by CEB to PUCSL at end of 2022 and to other relevant authorities.

“The CPC pricing mechanism has made it financially stable to run its operations in the last few months without depending on the Central Bank and Treasury.

But with the continuous burden on CPC by CEB it will make it impossible for CPC to sustain and make payments timely for a continuous supply,” he explained.

Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), Janaka Rathnayake says that legal action will be initiated regarding the officials who have failed to implement a decision given by an independent commission.

Furthermore, Mr. Ratnayake highlighted that he needs only to carry out the duties of the commission independently with no political ties, adding that he receives the required support from the other members of the commission for that purpose.

“The CEB is going to obtain Rs. 100 billion from the people who have been stuck in economic issues, who are using 30-60 units of electricity, Mr. Ratnayake said, mentioning that it is an unfair process.

“We will proceed with the proposal that we have calculated in a fair manner. We will not give away this to CEB as requested”, he emphasized.

The PUCSL Chairman further emphasized that the independent commissions are there to properly manage and regulate these matters, but political interferences are being carried out in each and every activity.

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