Plan to turn CEB into a profitable entity - Minister Amaraweera | Sunday Observer

Plan to turn CEB into a profitable entity - Minister Amaraweera

Minister of Renewable Energy & Power Mahinda Amaraweera
Minister of Renewable Energy & Power Mahinda Amaraweera

Divergent views on power crisis:

The energy crisis faced by Sri Lanka has been a hot topic for almost two decades now. It emerges from time to time when the Ceylon Electricity Board introduces power cuts mainly due to severe droughts. In the Face to Face segment this week, Former Minister of Power and Energy Ravi Karunanayake and current Minister Mahinda Amaraweera discussed various issues faced by the power sector and the ongoing power crisis in the country.

Q. We heard that some ministers are just idling these days as they think their portfolios will end in a few weeks and they will be given new ministries after the election. Are you also idling these days, thinking that you will be getting a new ministry after the general election if the same coalition comes to power?

A: No. I clearly do not. If I am to leave the next day I will still plan for the future. That is how I work. Also nothing is eternal. Anything can be gone at any moment. But our responsibility is to create plans for at least five to ten years. For instance, if this plan I have created if executed will convert the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) into a profit making entity in three years. No matter who executes the plan, that is the final result of the plan. I laid the foundation for a power plan which is to provide power consistently and at a low cost to the public.

Q. Former Ministers also claimed that they created power generation plans during their terms. How do you outshine them in terms of planning in the power sector?

A: If plans were created in recent history, they should have been implemented. But I have prepared a plan which can be executed. If you look at my history, the previous portfolios I handled, I have successfully executed such plans. Those are functioning successfully to date.

Q. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s manifesto includes a comprehensive plan of developing the energy sector within a time line. How certain are you about implementing those projects?

A : Yes, it includes plans on the Broadland hydro power station, Uma Oya, Moragolla, Talapitigala and Seethwaka and wind power in Mannar. We have already started working on them.

I am pretty sure we will be able to commence work on this before the General Election ends.

Q. But there is a common accusation that after the UNP government in 1977, no successing government had a steady power plan and that all these governments tried to introduce short term solutions to the increasing power crisis. The party you represented governed most of the time during that period. Your comment?

A: I do not accept that. Until 2014, we had a power plan and we implemented it.

Q. At a forum organised last year about the energy sector, some economists claimed that “planning to fail is a great way to justify emergency power purchasing”. Do you admit that such mafia is active in the power sector including the CEB?

A : It is a very short time since I have taken over the ministry. Therefore, as the subject minister I cannot comment on that without solid evidence.

Q. Patali Champika Ranawaka, former Minister of Power and Energy under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government said that there is an electrical engineer mafia inside the power sector. Are you of the same view?

A: As I said earlier, I am not ready to comment on it now. I am still studying things going on in the power sector. But I have heard this accusation. But I have to study it first before I say anything as the Minister in Charge.

Q. Former Minister Ravi Karunanayake had told the media that despite his advice to you as the former Minister about the risky situation in the power sector, the Government is planning for immediate power purchasing. Your comment.

A : I should mention that no power plant was built in the past five years when the UNP was in power. That deepened the power crisis we are facing today. However, I have appointed a six member committee to monitor power generation on a daily basis.

Q. The construction of the Kerawalapitiya LNG power plant has been dragging for years now. Isn’t that a priority of the current government?

A : It certainly is. Actually I am planning to discuss about it at the next Cabinet meeting. Therefore, we will be able to take a final decision on this long delayed LNG power plant. The Cabinet has already approved to fast-track two coal power plants, two LNG power plants and also to invest US$ 100 million on renewable energy.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government will execute plans to fulfil 70 per cent of the energy needs of the country by eco-friendly technologies by 2030. We have already received US$ 100million from India to develop our energy sector.