Kanchana Wijesekara

By Sanath Nanayakkare

Proposals in connection with reducing electricity tariffs would be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) on Friday or Monday, Kanchana Wijesekara, Minister of Power and Energy said in parliament yesterday, during the debate on the proposed Ceylon Electricity Board restructuring bill.

“The policy on electricity tariffs of the country has received the approval of the Cabinet according to which electricity prices would be amended every four months,” he said.

Speaking further he said, “This is how we are planning to effect the reduction of electricity tariffs from July 1. We will ensure that the domestic category of consumers would get the highest relief. I don’t know whether the PUCSL would ratify these proposals in the same vein. However, we have proposed to do it as follows. There are 1.8 million consumers in the lowest band of usage between 0-30 units. Their current unit price is Rs. 8 and we have proposed to reduce it to Rs. 6. There are more than 2 million consumers who use between30-60 units per month. We have proposed to reduce their unit price to Rs. 11 from Rs. 20 – a reduction of Rs. 9.”

“There are 1.5 million consumers that use between 60-90 units per month and we have proposed to reduce their unit price to Rs. 18 from Rs. 30. Rs. 50 is charged per unit from customers within the band using up to 120 units. We have proposed to reduce it to Rs. 30 from Rs. 50. This is the category that accounts for most middle income earners and government servants. Thus we will be proposing to give a substantial relief to more than 4 million consumers out of the total 6.8 million consumers.”

“Religious places, schools, boutiques, health institutions, small businesses will get the same relief under this scheme. These proposals will be sent to PUCSL on Friday or Monday and then PUCSL can implement it if they wish to do so. If they think that prices can be reduced further, we will extend our cooperation to that as well,” he said.

Nandika Pathirage- media spokesman of the Senior Electrical Engineers Association said that reducing electricity prices is not magic. “It has to be done through productivity optimization and enhancing efficiency within the sector. That is why we spoke in favor of restructuring the sector in the past and we still do. We will keep the public informed of the true aspects of the impact of the restructuring. What we have is a 50-year old model, and when some people say it can’t be changed, we can’t understand what they are talking about. That is why we say restructuring should be effected.”

Dr. Pradeep Perera, Head of Electricity Restructuring Office said that dividing the CEB into separate sections would increase its efficiency and reduce their operational costs.

‘Thus the government will be able to purchase power at cost efficient prices and pass that benefit on to the consumers. The process will lead to creating better outcomes for electricity consumers,” he said.