Sunday Times: LNG power projects delayed as CEB engineers intensify battle with PUCSL

At least three government-to-government Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power generation projects are likely to be delayed, with the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) instructing its members to boycott negotiations.

The move comes after the CEBEU decided to intensify its trade union action demanding the removal of the Director General of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the power sector regulator.

Accordingly, talks on the construction of three LNG power plants involving Japan, China and India will be affected, the union states in a letter sent to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The plants are to be built in Hambantota and Kerawalapitiya.

The CEBEU insists on the removal of PUCSL Director General Damitha Kumarasinghe and blames him for rejecting the CEB’s Least Cost Long Term Power Generation Expansion Plan 2018-2037 (LCLTGEP). The union says the regulator, has instead, approved its own version of the plan in violation of the Sri Lanka Electricity Act. The PUCSL, however, rejects the charge.

In its letter to the Prime Minister, the union states that Mr Kumarasinghe continues to function in his post “despite clear assurances given by the highest ranking authorities of the government that a new person will be appointed to the post of DG of PUCSL.”

As such, union members will refrain from participating in all government-to-government negotiations and other related activities “until a conducive environment is established in the PUCSL by the Government by appointing suitable personnel with professional integrity to the key positions of PUCSL.” The letter insists that the replacement of the PUCSL’s DG without any further delay is a must.

Meanwhile, the union has also written to the PUCSL Chairman informing him that it will launch a “non-cooperation campaign” with the entire PUCSL with immediate effect until a new DG is appointed to the regulator. “During this period, our members will not have any forms of communication with the PUCSL, either written or otherwise, will not attend any meetings, including any outside meetings too if anyone from PUCSL is present,” the letter says.

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