Cabinet decision curtails regulatory powers of the Public Utilities Commission

Cabinet decision curtails regulatory powers of the Public Utilities Commission

Written by Staff Writer

18 Apr, 2019 | 8:59 pm

Colombo (News 1st): Regular power cuts across the country have been halted for the moment, following a decision by the cabinet of ministers which enabled the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to purchase 100 Megawatts of electricity from the private sector over a 6 month period.

By no means should this be considered as a conclusion of the power crisis facing the country

The CEB is yet to provide the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) with information and data on the agreements it has reached to purchase the 100 megawatts of power from the private sector.

As such, the PUCSL is empowered by the 2002 Act of Parliament to challenge the CEB’s agreement to purchase power from the private sector in court.

However, these decisions by the Cabinet of Ministers on April 2nd has created a dilemma for the PUCSL.

This document signed by the Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers indicates that the PUCSL’s legal action against the CEB, which stems from the CEB’s illegal decision on March 17th to cut power without the Commission’s approval, was heavily discussed by the Cabinet of Ministers.

This document indicates that the cabinet has considered this matter as a legal dispute between two public institutions.

The decision made by the cabinet to prevent the Public Utilities Commission, an independent regulator, from taking any future legal action against the CEB as it, “creates public displeasure of the government”, shows a clear failure on the part of the government to comprehend the role of a regulatory authority.

If our cabinet of ministers is comprised of elected individuals who have been unable to comprehend that the PUCSL’s legal action taken in line with the law, is intended to protect the rights of the consumer or in this case the public, then it is a cause for great shame for the entire nation.

In what could prove to be a very dangerous move for democracy, this ludicrous decision taken by the cabinet of ministers could also be imposed on the Right to Information Commission, preventing the Commission from taking legal action against public institutions which fail to or refuse to disclose information to the public under the act.

Maybe as a next step, the cabinet of ministers should propose amendments to the laws on all regulatory authorities and not just the PUCSL. Perhaps the cabinet can propose that the police should not enforce the law.

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