Confusion and contradictions reigned yesterday when the Government revealed that the Cabinet has approved a two-phase hike in electricity tariff from January whilst regulator PUCSL said the move is illegal without its consent.
The Parliamentary National Council's Sub-Committee on Identifying Short- and Medium-Term Programs related to Economic Stabilisation revealed on Tuesday (29) that the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval for an electricity tariff hike as the increase made in the recent past is insufficient to cover the loss of the CEB.
As per the proposed move, electricity tariff will be hiked by 70% in two stages from January and June next year in a bid to address the Rs. 650 billion CEB owns to various parties.
This was disclosed at the meeting held under the chairmanship of MP Patali Champika Ranawaka on Tuesday.
CEB Additional General Manager Rohan Seneviratne has told the Committee that the Cabinet of Ministers approved electricity tariff hikes under two phases in January and June 2023, noting that the relevant measures will be taken for the purpose of obtaining approval from the PUCSL.
Government representatives and private institutions linked to the power sector were summoned before the committee to obtain proposals to address issues in the power sector.
However, in a lightning-speed reaction, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said no electricity tariff hikes are being considered as of now. By law, PUCSL approval is required and not of the Cabinet.
Separately the PUCSL also said that CEB has not been granted approval for power cuts from yesterday.
Ratnayake issued a statement in reference to an announcement by Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera related to power demand management. The CEB officials said in order to cover losses, electricity tariffs must be increased by around 70%.
Minister Wijesekera yesterday announced that the countrywide power cuts of one hour during the day and one hour 20 minutes at night will continue till 15 December. He also added that there will be no power cuts during Christmas and New Year.
However, the PUCSL Chief said that no approval has been granted yet by the PUCSL for power cuts beyond 30 November.