Electrical engineer Ranawaka paints a grim picture of outcome of proposed CEB reforms
… likens it to what happened to Russia with Gorbachev reforms
By Saman Indrajith
Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Patali Champika Ranawaka told Parliament yesterday that the government’s plans to restructure the Ceylon Electricity Board would certainly lead to disaster.
“These privatisation plans, if permitted, would have the same consequences as the economic reforms in Russia under Mikhail Gorbachev,” Ranawaka said.
Ranawaka, an electrical engineer, said that as per a recent Cabinet decision the CEB would be divided into 18 companies and some of its work would be given to four other companies. “This move will bring about disastrous consequences. And the privatisation of reservoirs will make it hard for the people to get water for drinking and agriculture because most water sources will be exploited by private companies in the name of power generation,” he said.
Ranawaka said that a committee report had been released on the plan to divide the CEB and its affiliated bodies into 18 companies and four institutions. The Cabinet had approved this report. The CEB would be broken down to 22 institutions. This will mean the dissolution of the CEB. Power generation would be given to six main companies. The first would take over the Kelani River hydropower generation including the Lakshapahana, Maussakelle, Canyon and Broadland. The second will take over the Mahaweli complex including Kotmale, Victoria, Randenigala and Polgolla. Third company would be set up at the Samanalawewa complex and CEB owned plants there. Fourth would be the Coal Power Complex of the Lakvijaya Power Plant in Puttalam, CEB’s Thermal Power plants at Kelanitissa and Sapugaskanda would be taken over by the fifth and the sixth would be the Wind power plant in Mannar, Ranawaka said.
Ranawaka said that people should not allow the privatisation of the waters of Kelani or Mahaweli rivers because that would deprive many provinces of drinking water. The top priority of the private companies would be the generation of power. What would happen if they cannot supply water to Colombo or any of these places?
“The most dangerous thing about this is the privatisation of hydropower. The public should not let this happen because we have finished paying for the Kelani River-based Laxapana Power Plant, and we have finished paying for the Mahaweli Power Plants. The government has no right to sell them. These are the people’s assets. Privatising these resources will be a serious threat to national security,” Ranawaka said, adding that the disbanding of the CEB is similar to Gorbachev dissolving Soviet Russia.
Ranawaka said that the issue of restructuring of the CEB would be taken up by the Economic Stabilisation Committee of Parliament under his watch and international experts had been invited to be present in the Committee on 13 Dec. He invited all MPs to attend the session and see the danger of the government move.
Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that restructuring of the CEB had been accepted by all as a necessity. “This had to be done to increase efficiency. Without increasing efficiency it is impossible to control the electricity prices.”
Minister Wijesekera accused Ranawaka of misleading the House.