No option but to increase electricity tariff – Prez
By Saman Indrajith
President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (08) told Parliament that Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had incurred losses to the tune of Rs 300 billion since 2013.
“We increased electricity tariff in August, but we will lose Rs 150 billion this year. If there is a drought next year we will need to find Rs 420 billion extra to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. If we get rain, we still need an additional Rs 352 billion. If there is a lot of rain and we get floods, we still needs 295 billion more. How will we find this money? The government has no revenue, if we print more money, the rupee will depreciate further,” he said.
Wickremesinghe added that another option was to increase VAT to pay for electricity. The CEB can also increase the tariff, he said.
“We can also extend power cut. I don’t want to do it. The GCE AL exam will take place in January or February. So, what can we do? We understand the plight of the people but what is the solution but to increase the tariff? We can just hold on. If we can get by and talk to China, we might be able to take the next step. We have to make tough decisions. We didn’t increase the tariff from 2012. Everyone is responsible for that. We are here because we didn’t take tough decisions,” he said.
The President also said that the line minister and the cabinet of ministers had the authority to increase the price of electricity. The Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) did not have the power to decide on the price, he said.
“The Chairman of the PUCSL says that he will not allow the government to increase prices. If so, how can we manage the electricity. He has no power. He is the owner of a company that consumes a lot of electricity. He has several companies and if electricity tariff increases his costs go up. He should not have taken up the post,” he said.