PUCSL Chairman misleading public - President | Daily News
Electricity tariff hike

PUCSL Chairman misleading public - President

Although the Energy Minister said that electricity tariffs were increased last August, the increase is not ample as it is estimated that the loss would be Rs. 151 billion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The President made this observation in Parliament yesterday (08)  taking part in the Third Reading debate of the budget proposal for the financial year 2023.

The President further said: “The total loss since 2013 is Rs.300 billion. If the drought prevails next year, we need Rs. 420 billion for next year’s electricity. If it rained, we need Rs. 352 billion while Rs.295 billion is required if it rained so much to have floods. How are we going to find this money? We would have to print money, but Rupee would depreciate. We would have to increase VAT but it would increase the price of all commodities or to charge it directly”.

“However the parents requested not to cut power due to GCE (A/L) examinations of their children. Nobody including the politicians is willing to increase the prices. What is the option we have other than that?. I was the one who initiated the draft of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Act. There the powers are vested on the Minister and the Cabinet. There is a letter from the Attorney General which says it is evident from the aforementioned provisions in the Sri Lanka Electricity Act general policy guidelines of pricing could be issued by the Minister and that such policy may be framed in the form of a tariff structure formula or by any other method. In terms of section 30 sub section 2 and 3 of that the aforesaid the PUCSL could be statutory obliged to give effect to such policy. It is observed that neither the Sri Lanka Electricity Act nor the PUCSL Act No 35/2002 contain any provision to empower the PUSL to vary or act in variants of such policy guidelines”.

“I know it well, as I was the one who drafted the PUCSL Act and it comes within the ambit of my ministry. I don’t know as to why this Chairman misleads the people. I’ve got to meet this Chairman as I have received several complaints against him and his statements. He says that he does not allow increasing the electricity tariffs. He has not been vested with any power in that connection. How could the country run the economy, if we can’t increase the electricity tariff”?

“The said Chairman is the Chairman of the Trillium Group too. He is the one who buys the highest amount of electricity. Building a diversified portfolio of luxury real estate. Trillium: As a developer we aim to create the most luxuriant living spaces, offices and hotels at sought after locations where our design and architecture are obtained through exceptional levels of expertise. How much electricity is consumed by luxurious apartments? He has Trillium Residencies, Trillium Havelock Residencies, Trillium Residencies Colombo 07, Trillium Hotels Colombo 7, Trillium Residencies Negombo, Trillium Villas. So when the electricity prices increase his expenditure increases. As the Chairman of the PUCSL he has conflict of interest with that decision, so he had to disassociate himself from that meeting. He didn’t do that. They want me to have an inquiry. But under the law, the power of inquiry lies with the Parliament. So I will leave it to the members of the Parliament to decide what has to be done. I don’t think this type of thing can go on. You are chairman of a public corporation; you must know how you should behave. You are not a monkey who dances into an organ. If I had something like that, I would not be pleased with the electricity tariffs going up. I don’t like electricity bills going up at my home, but as I have none, it’s no problem to me. I saw that the Engineering Association viewed that the electricity bills did not need to be increased. I know the issue there. I’ve got the letter sent by State Minister Dilum Amunugama on those power plant projects none of which have yet been approved. They are 100 mw offshore wind power plant in Norochcholai at USD 321 million, 500 mw offshore wind power plant in Hambantota at USD 1.4 billion, 100mw solar power plant in Buffalo Island, Batticaloa at USD 68 million, 250 mw wind power plant in Dutch Bay, Puttalam at USD 204 million. I would ask them first to pass these and then pass their resolution against the increase of electricity tariff”.

“We have to import coal for six months for the Norochcholai coal power plant as for six months we cannot import coal due to the condition of the sea there. In 2001, I stopped the project of the construction of the Norochcholai power plant due to this six months issue. But when we were defeated, they convinced the successor Government that this was the suitable place to construct the coal power plant. Those persons who instructed the government now have retired. In 2002, when we got World Bank aid, we were given a report on electricity on unbundling. We did not implement it and we were later defeated in 2004. Then, these officers requested the government to bring the Act in 2007. Thereafter not a single electricity power plant could be set up. Following dialogues with India and Japan, the UNP Government could come to agreements to get two LNG power plants. After we were defeated, the successor Government, without cancelling those agreements, granted it to the New Fortress company in the USA. Thereafter, as they did not like New Fortress, they gave it back to Pakistan and China. So within the same premises, there were China, Pakistan, India, USA, Japan and only Russia was not there. It was wonderful that a world war did not ignite there as there were five main powers in the world. Now there is no LNG or anything here and now they ask me to solve this issue. If the Japanese and the Indians were allowed, the LNG could have been a reality. So I asked you members here not to query about it again”.



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