Electricity Amendment Bill passed

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Amendments to the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009 were passed in Parliament, with a majority of 70 votes yesterday (9).

A total of 116 MPs voted in favour of the Bill, while 46 voted against it.

Following the debate on the second reading of the Bill, the Opposition demanded a vote. 120 votes were cast in favour and 36 were cast against. 13 Parliamentarians abstained. Thus, the second reading was passed with a majority of 84 votes.

Subsequently, during the committee stage, the Opposition objected to the amendment brought by the Energy Minister to Article 4 and the ruling party had to withdraw the amendment.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Dr. Harsha de Silva, on behalf of the Opposition, moved an amendment to Article 4, which the Energy Minister rejected. Thus, the Opposition called for a division and the amendment moved by the Opposition was rejected by a majority of 64 votes. 51 votes were cast in favour and 115 votes were cast against. Dr. de Silva’s amendment proposed to do away with renewable energy project tenders less than 10 MW.

The Opposition then called for a vote on Article 4 in its entirety, which was passed by a majority of 70 votes, to which 116 votes were cast in favour and 46 cast against.

Thus, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill was passed with a majority. This Bill, introduced in Parliament on 17 May 2022 by the Energy Minister, qualifies a person to apply for a generation licence.

Accordingly, this amendment will remove the restrictions on the issuance of a power generation licence for a person who is generating electricity over and above the generation capacity of 25 MW and will allow anyone to apply for it without any restriction on the generation capacity.

Meanwhile, Dr. de Silva expressed his disappointment over the defeat of the amendment he presented for the Bill.

He tweeted, “I fought hard to keep transparency in procuring large renewable energy projects by proposing a compromise amendment to do away with tenders less than 10 MW. My amendment got 54 votes. Sri Lanka joins an odd group of nations blocking competition. This goes against good governance.”

“Due to non-transparent procurement and corruption, we pay so much more than necessary for electricity. One bright spot was the requirement for competition in renewable projects, but there were delays. Instead of fixing the problem, they did away with the competition. This is a horrible decision,” he stressed. 

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake