The Government is to submit the new electricity tariff rates to the Cabinet by January, bypassing the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL).
The Sunday Times learns that the Cabinet paper is being prepared, setting the average selling price at Rs 42 a unit with the aim of relieving the burden on low-income families.
The move to bypass the PUCSL comes amidst continued objections to revising tariffs on the grounds that the second revision of electricity charges is being introduced too soon with the last being in August.
On the last occasion, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) sought permission from the PUCSL for a tariff hike aimed at increasing its revenue to Rs 800 million, but permission was granted only to raise tariffs to gain a revenue of Rs 500 million.
The CEB’s outstanding liabilities include Rs 80 billion required for fuel supplies payments, Rs 55 billion for independent power producers, Rs 35 billion for non-conventional renewable energy producers, and other payments for local and foreign material suppliers.
By the end of October, the CEB’s outstanding dues for external parties had increased to Rs. 612 billion. Power and Energy Ministry sources said the plan was to seek Cabinet approval for the proposed increases and thereafter implement the new tariff rates.
The sources said they had taken into consideration the warning by the CEB engineers about the possible power cuts due to possible drought conditions next year.
Meanwhile, with the CEB’s proposed restructuring programme, the Sunday Times learns that there was a strong possibility of the PUCSL being replaced or abolished.
PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake told the Sunday Times that though it was not possible to bypass the regulator, if changes were made under a restructuring process it would be unfair. He said it was the international standard to have a regulatory authority.
( Source : Sunday Times)