Electricity tariff hike not final - Govt

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The government yesterday asked people not to panic on the electricity tariff increase, as there were more than 20 days to implement the proposal.

Addressing a media conference at the Mahaweli Centre, SLFP Treasurer Dallas Alahapperuma said that there was only a proposal to increase the electricity tariffs, but it was not implemented yet.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had received requests from trade unions, political parties, civil organizations, etc to reduce the tariffs, Alahapperuma said adding that as a people’s leader the President would consider them.

The Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister reminded that some past governments cut power for 12 hours, contracted to purchase electricity from the private sector at a high cost and changed the time of the country to save power, but all those methods failed.

Alahapperuma said that after 2005, the Rajapaksa government did not enforce power cuts, but took all efforts to give electricity to the entire country.

"In 2005, only 70 per cent of the country had electricity but today more than 90 per cent of the people have electricity," he said.

The Minister said that there were doubts about the fuel adjustment charges in new tariff increment proposal, but it would be considered.

He said that the new tariff plan was based on old data. For example, today 13 million consumers use below 30 units of electricity, but the number was very low a few years ago.

Electricity usage had changed due to increase in the use of electrical goods in homes as the country had developed, he said.

Answering a query, he said that anyone is free to express their views on the electricity tariff hike at the labour day celebrations and there were no bans in the SLFP.

Alahapperuma said that SLFP trade unionist too expressed their opposition to the power tariff hike at the same venue on Sunday.

Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that currently the average production cost of a unit of electricity was high.

He said that the situation would change when the second phase of the Norachcholai power plant and new coal power plant in Sampur start operations.

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