The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is now in for systematic restructuring process by unbundling it into eight separate corporate entities for power generation, transmission, and distribution, a recent board paper on the administration specified. Workers are protesting the move.
The board paper indicated that it plans to reduce massive losses of the CEB by transforming it into efficient profit making institution by setting up these entities under eight new general managers.
These entities will undertake functions of the CEB relating to hydro electricity, thermal electricity, coal power and non renewable power generation, distribution, and other activities of CEB as well as Lanka Electricity Company (LECO). A new Electricity Reforms Bill will be drafted and presented in Parliament soon to regularise the restructuring process, a senior official of the Ministry of Power said.
According to the board paper the CEB has been incurring losses due to the purchase of electricity at higher prices and selling it to consumers at lower prices, he added.
The total loss of the board due to non-collection of electricity bills during the last few months as a result of the country’s lockdown was Rs. 90 billion.
He also stated that the CEB had not received Rs. 28.40 billion due to non-payment of bills last September.
A sum of Rs. 70 billion a month was collected from electricity consumers in bill payments and due to the relief given to consumers to pay their bills during the last epidemic period, while the CEB has to recover Rs. 17 billion from hotels and industrialists alone, he pointed out
President of the Engineers’ Association Saumya Kumarawadu told the Business Times that their union in collaboration with other trade unions would take strong action against the appointment of eight general managers.
The board has failed to increase the generation capacity in the recent past to meet the growing demand by implementing any mega power plants including large scale renewable energy projects in the recent past even after the President’s green energy was announced, he pointed out.
The CEB has a staff of 23,000 inclusive of over 1,400 professionals and unions are continuing their agitation against the government’s initiatives of entering into power deals including the controversial Yugadanavi LNG power project and attempts to privatise the institution under the cover of restructuring, he added.
The unbundling will also provide an opportunity for the government to get rid of the majority of staff giving them a golden handshake, the trade union leader alleged.