Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) spokesman AR Navamani told the Sunday Observer yesterday that the 74% increase in monthly electricity charges was not a CEB decision and added that the utility regulator utilities, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) had decided to increase the tariff according to its cost-based electricity review.
“But the price has been increased in consultation with the CEB,” he said.
Navamani was answering the question as to why the CEB unexpectedly increased its electricity tariff by 75% at a time when people are facing price shocks when they go to buy essential consumer goods, such as coffee. bread, eggs, canned fish, sugar and dhal. among others.
He said CEB spends about Rs. 54 to generate a single unit of electricity but sells one unit at Rs. 4:50 p.m.
The regulator is empowered to increase the electricity tariff based on the actual cost of electricity, he said.
The Sunday Observer learns that some stakeholders who sat down with the PUCSL during Electricity Review Meeting consultations recently said that now was not the best time to review tariffs as people’s economic conditions are difficult.
According to PUCSL sources, stakeholders stated that CEB and PUCSL have failed to demonstrate that the costs to be covered are reasonable and that it is unfair to revise tariffs to cover costs resulting from the inefficiency of the CEB. They had highlighted unreasonable salary costs and the high number of CEB employees, as well as the fact that the CEB is corrupt and that its processes and accounts should be thoroughly audited.
According to PUCSL sources, they are working with the CEB to address issues related to the CEB’s failure to promote renewable energy-based electricity generation and the actions needed to promote it.
According to sources, the CEB has not conducted studies on the cost of service, which makes it impossible to determine whether the tariffs are fair. The CEB did not seek advice from economists or follow well-established tariff review procedures.
According to consumer protection organizations, the CEB must stop paying bonuses and other benefits to its employees along with the increase in tariffs. CEB employees have threatened to strike if their bonuses are not paid or their overtime is reduced.
When asked if CEB leaders had considered cutting bonuses and other employee allowances to save the organization, as most other institutions had done. CEB spokesman Navamani said the CEB has nothing to do with the CEB unions’ strike threats as they have the right to freedom of expression.
When PUCSL President Janaka Ratnayaka was contacted to inquire about the tariff increase, he declined to comment saying it was not the right time.