President Ranil Wickremesinghe made special revelations regarding the increase in electricity tariffs and claimed that Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake has no power in this regard.
Speaking in Parliament this morning (08 Dec), Wickremesinghe addressed recent concerns pertaining to the proposed increase in electricity tariffs.
Stating that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is currently at a loss of Rs. 300 billion incurred since 2013, Wickremesinghe stated that in the event a drought takes place next year, an additional Rs. 420 billion is required.
“If it rains normally, Rs. 352 billion is required, if it rains and there are floods, Rs. 295 billion is required. How do we find these? The government has no income. That’s the problem,” he emphasized, adding that there are only three solutions to the issue, to print money, to increase the Value-Added Tax (VAT), or to increase the electricity tariffs.
Explaining the disadvantages all three solutions would bring about, the President stated that although they understand the burden of the people, there is no better alternative than to increase the electricity tariffs, adding that such unpopular decisions have to be made in certain instances for the betterment of both the country, and the future of its people.
“We are here because we didn’t always make difficult decisions. We have not increased our electricity tariffs since 2013. Everyone should be held responsible for that. Other countries made difficult decisions. We ran away from them,” he said.
Commenting on the recent remarks made by PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake, the President accused him of leading society astray with his claims that he will not allow for an increase in electricity tariffs.
Wickremesinghe also revealed that Ratnayake is the chairman of several organizations, including Trillium, which currently buys the most units of electricity. “When the tariffs on electricity are increased, his own expenses increase,” he said, attributing this to Ratnayake’s hesitance towards the increase.
“The power of making this decision lies with the relevant minister and the cabinet,” Wickremesinghe clarified, adding that the PUCSL Act was drafted by the President himself, and thus, such claims are calling for a meeting between the two, following several complaints that were received in this regard.
He further quoted the Act, citing that in the event an electricity tariff is imposed by the relevant Ministry, the PUCSL has no authority to act in a manner that is incompatible with the said decision.