Power cuts: SMEs badly affected | Sunday Observer

Power cuts: SMEs badly affected

Chamber heads and leading businessmen said the current power crisis in the country is affecting all businesses across the board and in particular the small and medium sector enterprises which are unable to afford generators to operate during power cuts.

National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) issuing a release last week said the decision of the CEB to cut electricity in two time slots within the day, has created severe inconvenience to small and medium industries and corporate entities. Larger industries are not affected to a certain extent, because most of them have standby generators. It’s the small and medium scale businesses and industries that are mostly affected.

It stated irregular power cuts are causing problems to their production processes, and they are not in a position to plan production schedules effectively.

The rift between the CEB and the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) which is hindering the implementation of power projects has to be urgently sorted out. A balance between coal, LNG, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power has to be decided on by a government appointed panel of experts in these subjects and environment bodies qualified and accountable and power plant type and locations should not be decided by various people having selfish motives. There are two power cuts in the morning and evening hours.

At least if the CEB could get the large industries and the hotels to use their generators (500KVA or more) and pay for using them, it may be better than paying the private power plants who are waiting to supply power at rates between Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 per unit.

“Many of the SMEs are left with no other option other than to alter working hours to suit the daily power cuts which is obstructing the smooth functioning of business.

We will request the authorities to provide stand-by generators to SMEs which cannot afford them to ensure uninterrupted operations,” NCCSL President Asela de Livera said. Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce Chairperson Chathuri Ranasinghe said the Chamber has not done a survey to assess the impact of the power cuts on businesses.

However, if the crisis continues all segments of the business community will be affected.

“Sole proprietorship ventures and small and macro businesses are the vulnerable segment of any crisis. The policy makers should pay attention to this sector which has to face with many issues to sustain operations,” Ranasinghe said, adding that financing is a major issue for the small business segment which should be addressed urgently. The National Chamber of Exporters in a statement last week expressed concern over the adverse effects of the present power crisis on the export sector.

It stated, “The chamber notes with dismay the unscheduled power cuts effected hitherto without warning has resulted in the disruption of production activities especially of export oriented enterprises and industries in general”.

A three-member ministerial committee was appointed last week by President Maithripala Sirisena to find an urgent solution to the power crisis. The Ministry of Power and Energy has decided to purchase electricity from two private power plants as a short term solution to the crisis. 

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