Thank you, CEB! – a response


At first, going by the above caption of your editorial, one would have expected accolades and not brickbats, but the uncharitable accusations, where CEB is accused or purchasing power from Private Sector

Sector at exorbitant prices, being swayed by various lobbies, promoting crooked deals, corruption, should not be allowed to pass without a comment.

Up to early 1990s, the CEB ran at a profit. In fact the bankrupt Treasury, insisted CEB to invest on Treasury Bill without investing on other lucrative areas. This was due to proper financial control, good management and above all the dedicated officials.

Do not forget, CEB is a State Owned statutory body and has to depend on the government, to implement least cost generation plan - Short, Medium and Long term -, which the CEB prepares after scientific analysis  based on  various factors, abject to changes due tovarious factors, in fluctuations of prices in the World Market, such as oil, gas, coal etc.

The situation deteriorated, in late 1990s, when the governments in power, did not have the political will to implement the Coal Power Project at Norocchcholai. Due to an unfounded objection by then Bishop of Chilaw, on the grounds this project will adversely affect St. Anne’s Shrine at Talawila. Exhaustive studies were done by local and foreign experts, but with no avail, until the country faced a severe power crisis, resulting in a six hour power cut. In fact, this is what the hard hitting editorial of THE ISLAND  of May 28 2004 had to say:

‘The power crisis which is defying solution certainly needs the personal attention of the Executive President herself. There are the oil lobbies, coal lobbies and many more lobbies in the fray with religious dignitaries and of course politicians involved. Hard decisions have to be taken in national interest and cannot be ducked for political or religious and multi-million dollar commissions involved. In this process some involved are bound to cry ‘FOUL’ as it always happens when such decisions are taken.  A STRONG NATIONAL LEADER HAS TO TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY AND MAKE THAT DECISION. IF THEY CANNOT, THEY ARE NOT NATIONAL LEADERS.’

With delay, in obtaining Cabinet approval, the situation worsened, and as said earlier the country had to face severe power shortage, resulting in six hour power cut. To meet this urgent need, not due to the fault of the CEB private sector power suppliers had to be invited, with government approval. The private sector vultures, taking mean advantage of the dire disaster the country was facing, came in with their own terms and conditions, which the CEB to a certain extent had to curtail and accept. This is the starting point as you say, corruption and other nefarious activities, which both CEB officials and politicians concerned were attracted to and made hay. It is the politician who lured some CEB officials that matter to toe their line. You scratch my back and I scratch your back seems to be the practice now.

Isn’t it unjustifiable to place the entire blame on the present high tariff which we poor consumers have to bear due to the fault of all governments since early 2000?

G. A. D. Sirimal


Former Asst. Secretary

Ministry for Power and Eneregy

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