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CEB trade unions threaten blackout unless govt. suspends New Fortress deal



By Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) United Trade Union Alliance is scheduled to stage a major blackout protest on Wednesday against the sale of nearly 40% of shares of the Yugadanavi Power Plant, Kerawalapitiya to US energy firm, New Fortress.

Convener of the union alliance, led by pro-JVP CEB Employees’ Union General Secretary, Ranjan Jayalal said that the trade union action would be similar to the 72-hour trade strike, which crippled the country in 1996.

Jayalal said the CEB trade unions would go ahead with its protest if the government did not suspend the New Fortress agreement immediately.

“Suspend the agreement before 3 November. If you fail to do so, then we will cripple the power sector.

This will not be something like closing schools,” Jayalal said.

He added that the leaders of 11 political parties had promised to engage in a protest simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the engineers of the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) yesterday said it would support the trade union alliance’s call for the protest, and hold a protest opposite the CEB headquarters in Colombo on Wednesday.

An executive member of the CEBEU told The Island that they regretted any inconvenience that would be caused to the public due to their union action. “We have tried to negotiate with the government authorities but they are not flexible. We may have to decide on severe actions if the government goes ahead with the unsolicited proposal of the New Fortress Energy Ltd of the US.”

The CEBEU says that natural gas would be the next fossil fuel option for the country in respect of the country’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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Businesses can collapse due to electricity tariff increase next year– Patali



Patali Champika Ranawaka

The Cabinet has approved increase in electricity tariffs in two stages in January and June 2023.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday (29) at a meeting of the Sub Committee on Identifying the Short & Medium-Term Programmes, related to Economic Stabilisation of the National Council.

The government increased power tariffs in August this year.

Parliament announced that although the electricity tariffs had been increased in the recent past, the CEB was still running at a loss.

The representatives of the government and private institutions related to the power sector were called before the Committee to obtain proposals for the purpose of solving the issues in the power sector.

In order to cover the current losses of the CEB, electricity tariffs had to be increased by about 70%, the statement issued by Parliament quoted CEB representatives as having said.

The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Patali Champika Ranawaka, as having said that if electricity tariffs were increased to cover CEB’s losses, businesses could collapse as a result.

It was also disclosed that the CEB currently owed nearly 650 billion rupees as outstanding debt to various parties including banks and electricity suppliers. The Electricity Board representative stated that out of the amount to be paid, nearly Rs. 35 billion were to be paid to the organisations that supplied renewable energy, and 75 billion rupees are to be paid to Thermal power suppliers. Thus, it expects to pay at least part of what it owes the suppliers from the 50-billion-rupee loan to be received. (SF)

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PMD claims President’s response misinterpreted



President Ranil Wickremesinghe denied recent media reports stating that the Provincial Councils will be replaced with the District Development Committees.

Issuing a press release his media division said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response in Parliament on Tuesday has been misinterpreted.

Wickremesinghe’s media Division said that in response to a statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the President stated that the District Development Committees (DDCs) would be established within the Provincial Councils.

The DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between thegovernment, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government bodies for all executive decisions, the Media Division said.

“This will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage. Apart from that, the president has not made any statement about the dissolution of provincial councils.”

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Kumudesh: Top bureaucrat demands service extension from Minister’s daughter to approve shady deal



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A senior official of the Ministry of Health has asked the daughter of a Cabinet Minister to help him obtain a service extension in return for approving a controversial tender for medical supplies, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) Ravi Kumudesh says.

Kumudesh told The Island yesterday that the Minister’s daughter was working for a company that supplied oxygen generators.

“The official told the Minister’s daughter that he would grant the tender to a company of his choice to ensure a comfortable retirement and if her company wanted to secure the contract he should be given an extension in service.”

Kumudesh said the money for the medical equipment was to be paid through the grants from the Global Fund. The World Bank is a major contributor to the Global Fund.

“Officials can grant these tenders to companies of their choice by changing criteria. They make small technical specifications to ensure that only one company qualifies. These officials are a law unto themselves.”

Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

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