Relief on electricity tariff increase: Who is deceiving whom?


President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his May Day speech announced that there would not be a single cent increase in electricity charges for households consuming less than 60 units and there would be some relief for households consuming between 61-180 units. Prior to May Day, he had justified the massive tariff increase during his meeting with heads of media institutions and later at a public meeting. However, he explained that his decision to offer relief was based on his interactions with ordinary public, who has been highly inconvenienced due to the substantial tariff increase. He also promised to extend some relief to those who exceeded the upper limit in their respective tariff blocks (i. e. 91-96, 121-126 units etc) due to a special event (party) and even offered up to five units free of charge for households with children sitting GCE (O/L) and (A/L) From all these announcements and pronouncements, it appears that the President has understood the severe burden on ordinary consumers due to this tariff increase and is genuinely interested in offering some relief.

I am an ordinary consumer and have four members in my family. I have replaced all incandescent bulbs in my house with high quality energy efficient CFL bulbs. We use only the essential electronic equipment including an iron, a TV set, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a rice cooker and a blender. I have strictly followed all energy saving tips published by the Sustainable Energy Authority. With all these energy saving efforts, still we ended up consuming around 160-180 units every month. I am comparing below my electricity bill for the month of March, 2013 (units 174) under the tariff structure prevailed before April, what was announced in April 2013 and the latest revision based on relief offered by the President’s May-day speech. (I have not included the three tariff structures in this article, as it is well known to one and all.)

The above comparison shows that an ordinary consumer like me will not receive any reduction in my monthly electricity bill as per the relief promised by the President. It was publicised that households consuming between 61-180 units would receive a 25% reduction in fuel surcharge. However, the latest tariff structure announced by the Public Utilities Commission maintains the fuel surcharge at 40% for households consuming above 90 units. Thus, it is very clear that ordinary consumers using more than 90 units will not receive any reduction. I would like to ask the relevant authorities, who is deceiving whom? Are the CEB and PUCSL trying to deceive us by denying the tariff reduction promised by the President or as many politicians do or is the President trying to deceive us by promising one thing, but directing the relevant authorities to continue the massive electricity tariff increase using another formula ?

Chandra Vithanage

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