Written by Staff Writer
26 Feb, 2020 | 9:28 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- The present and former governments have been blaming each other over the losses incurred by the Ceylon Electricity Board. However, while the losses of the CEB are nearing Rs 100 billion, additional power has been purchased for the next six months at higher rates.
Journalists posed questions to, State Minister of Renewable Energy and Power, Mahindananda Aluthgamage on the matter.
Journalist:- It is said that more than 100 Megawatts of electricity are to be purchased. How can the CEB which is incurring losses face this situation?
Mahindananda Aluthgamage:- The government will provide the required funds to avoid inconveniencing the public although the CEB is in a crisis. 100 megawatts of emergency power has been purchased. We have extended a six-month contract awarded by the former government for the purchases to a year.
Journalist: Institutions under the CEB such as Lanka Transformers Limited are hit by losses. Why is the CEB facing losses always?
Mahindananda Aluthgamage:- The CEB which was making profits before 2015 is sustaining losses since these institutions were inactive under the former government. Electricity had been supplied at higher rates due to the purchase of emergency power at higher rates.
Journalist: The tender to construct a new power plant has been awarded to China Machinery which was involved in constructing the Norochcholai power plant.
Mahindananda Aluthgamage:- The Norochcholai power plant which is the first coal power plant in the country does not suffer losses although there are shortcomings. If 900 Megawatts of the power supply is handled by one company then bringing in another company would disrupt the process. We haven’t awarded the tender yet. We have only called for a proposal.
Journalist: Will tenders be called for this?
Mahindananda Aluthgamage:- Yes. Definitely.
The Former Minister of Power and Energy, Ravi Karunanayake speaking on the matter said;
“We only assisted the CEB engineers to implement their work plan. Although it was said that emergency purchases were important we decided it could not be done. Today steps have been taken to make an emergency purchase of 200 megawatts of power. Our hydropower capacity is 64%. This will reduce if the water is supplied to meet the requirements of the Mahaweli Hydro Power complex by March 15. If the drought continues a shortage of 500 megawatts of electricity will occur. Power cuts will occur if this shortage is not fulfilled. It was said that a minister in the former government had certain issues. This name is not being revealed since the person who said it worked alongside this minister. The government can’t resolve the issues by blaming the opposition as this is a national problem.”
While Susil Premajayantha served as the Minister of Power from the 10th of April 2004, W.D.J. Seneviratne served in that capacity from the 23rd of November 2005. Patali Champika Ranawaka served in this position from the 23rd of April 2003 while Pavithra Wanniarachchi replaced him on the 28th of January 2013, before Patali Champika Ranawaka was re-appointed to the same role on the 12th of January 2015. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya served in this capacity on the 4th of September in 2015, while Ravi Karunanayake held this portfolio from the 20th of December 2018.
However, Suren Batagoda served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy from the 19th of January 2015 until the new government came into power.
Leader of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayaka commenting on the incident said;
“They have prepared a power generation plan. Therefore, they are well aware of the impending power crisis. But they never find a solution to this until the last minute. Instead of finding solutions, a notice is issued stating that the power supply would be suspended within two days. Thereafter, attempts are made to purchase power from independent power producers. Then the commissions are higher. This is what they are trying to do today. Mahindananda Aluthgamage convenes a news briefing and says that power will be purchased from the private sector immediately. Then electricity is purchased at higher rates. The group then divides the commissions earned through these purchases.”
Former JVP MP, Gamini Ratnayake says;
“Lanka Transformers Limited which is a semi-governmental body under the CEB earns profits while the CEB is suffering losses. The profits earned by LTL must be shared among the CEB and the Treasury. However, LTL had been bearing the expenses of all the previous Power and Energy ministers. The same applies to the current state minister of Power Mahindananda Aluthgamage. Therefore, it is justifiable when the Power and Energy Ministers express anger when matters concerning LTL’s fraud and corruption are exposed.”
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