New ministers ignorant of procedures – PUCSL

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New ministers know nothing about policies and procedures, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) said.

This was in reference to a statement issued by Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera that the tariff revisions proposed by the CEB were approved by the PUCSL.

PUCSL Chairman, Janaka Ratnayake said,“He is a political authority and the Ministers in charge of the subject have  been changing frequently and these appointments are meaningless,” adding however the PUCSL is independent and operates according to the PUCSL Act.

Wijesekera tweeted “The proposed tariff revisions by CEB have been approved by PUCSL and this isn’t the first time. The request has been made multiple times since 2015. Cabinet has the authority to implement it, revise it, or to reject the proposal. No decision has been made on the request so far.”

Contradicting the statement made by Wijesekera, Ratnayake said no approval has been given for a tariff revision, adding that if there is an increase in the electricity tariff, there is a procedure to be followed, including seeking the Government policy decision in this regard.

He added that a decision as to an electricity tariff revision would not be made overnight, but would rather be in accordance with this procedure.

Thus, when the CEB makes a request for an increase in the electricity tariff, the proposal will be published for public consultation and then it will be advertised, following which discussions will be held with the public and other stakeholders.

Ratnayake also said the CEB earns a monthly income on Rs 22 billion, while Rs 18 billion has to be paid to the private sector to purchase power. The CEB also presently operates with an income of Rs 276 billion, while incurring an expense of Rs 505 billion, he said, adding that a revision in the electricity tariff is only sought to bridge the gap between income and expenditure.

He said in the event a revision is effected, the Government has to make a policy decision to identify groups who will be entitled to some sort of relief.

Meanwhile, Ratnayake also said he could not be ousted for the decisions made by the PUCSL, adding that the Government does not even have a majority to do so and if a majority is obtained, he would step down if required.

By Faadhila Thassim