Electricity rate hike, a PUCSL initiative - CEB | Sunday Observer

Electricity rate hike, a PUCSL initiative - CEB

14 August, 2022

Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) spokesman A.R. Navamani yesterday told the Sunday Observer that increasing monthly electricity charges by 74 percent was not a decision of the CEB and added that the utility regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) decided to increase the tariff as per its cost-based electricity revision.

“But the tariff was increased in consultation with the CEB,” he said.

Navamani was responding to the question as to why the CEB increased its electricity tariff by an unexpected 75 percent at a time the people are facing price shocks when they go to buy essential consumer goods, such as bread, eggs, canned fish, sugar and dhal among other things.

He said that the CEB spends about Rs. 54 to produce a single electricity unit but sells a unit at Rs. 16.50.

The regulatory body is empowered to increase the electricity tariff in accordance with the actual cost of electricity, he said.

The Sunday Observer learns that some stakeholders who sat with the PUCSL at the electricity revision meeting consultations recently said that it was not the best time to revise tariffs as people’s economic conditions are difficult.

According to PUCSL sources, the stakeholders have said that the CEB and PUCSL have not proved the costs that are to be covered were reasonable and it is unfair to revise tariffs to cover costs that arise as a result of CEB inefficiency. They had spotlighted unreasonable salary costs and the high number of CEB employees, and also that the CEB is corrupt and its processes and accounts should be thoroughly audited.

According to PUCSL sources, they are working with the CEB to resolve issues related to the CEB not encouraging renewable energy-based electricity generation and the action needed to promote the same.

According to sources, the CEB has not conducted cost of service studies, making it impossible to determine whether the tariffs are fair. The CEB has not sought economists’ advice or followed well-established tariff revision procedures.

According to consumer protection organisations, the CEB must stop paying bonuses and other perks to its employees parallel with the tariff increase. CEB employees have threatened to strike if their bonuses are not paid or their overtime hours are reduced.

When asked asked whether CEB executives had considered cutting bonuses and other allowances paid to employees to save the organisation, as most other institutions had done. CEB spokesman Navamani said that the CEB has nothing to do with threatened strikes by CEB trade unions because they have the right to freedom of expression.

When the PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayaka was contacted to inquire about the tariff increase, he declined to comment saying it was not the right time.