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CEB Brain drain with engineers shortage to hit power generation drastically.

By: Staff Writer

April 20, Colombo (LNW): Consequent to the restructure of Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board by unbundling it to several separate private sector entities, the state owned electricity provider is losing qualified engineers at an alarming rate, union officials said.

The exodus of CEB engineers has been increased after a currency collapse and new progressive taxes slapped on the debased salary, and they are not coming back, they disclosed.

Ceylon Electricity Board has a cadre of around 1,000 engineers but 159 of them left the country for greener pastures since January 2022 up to now after obtaining levae or resigning from service

105 engineers have resigned from the CEB and 54 other engineers have obtained leave from service. 13 of them have submitted their resignation letters during the first few days of this month.

The total number of engineers leaving the country for foreign countries is expected to increase up to 200 in the coming months leading to serious gaps in some branches with engineering staff down to about 750, Dhanushka Parakramasinghe, President of the CEB Engineers Union revealed.

“Engineers are not coming back,” Parakramasinghe said. “Some are coming back to resign. Some who left on leave having got PR, have sent resignation letters from abroad.”

Engineers are leaving for Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, to work in utilities and also the mining sector.

Sri Lanka’s coal power complex needs 96 staff and they are now down to 70, he said. CEBruns in shifts, round the clock.

Coal plant staff can easily get jobs in the mining sector in many countries including South Africa, where heavy machinery is in operation, he said.

“But our people usually like to go to Australia or Western European countries,” Parakramasinghe said.

Those who are leaving are offered jobs from 4,000 to 8,000 dollars based on experience and type of jobs, he added.

Engineers working in operations and maintenance (O & M) in transmission and generators are also in high demand abroad, he said.

An entry level engineer gets around 150,000 to 170,000 rupees, at the CEB. It works out to around 5 dollars a day. At the central bank, which debases money, office assistants were paid 186,000 according to disclosures made in parliament.

Sri Lanka’s progressive taxes under an International Monetary Fund program, apply from around 3 dollars a day (100,000 rupees) through pay-as-you-earn taxes.

On one side senior staff are retiring and the CEB is seeing a drain of middle level staff who have about 10 years of experience, who are next in line, the Union said.

CEB will have problems maintaining service if the staff go abroad at this level, Buddhika Wijayawardhana, joint secretary of the CEBEU said

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