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CEBEU broken to meet changing times, Senior Engineers’ Association formed



by Ifham Nizam

Consistent streamlined long term policy framework is needed by Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to provide electricity supply to its customers at an affordable price, the newly launched Senior Engineers Association Spokesman Eng. Nandika Pathirage said

Pathirage, the ex-President of the powerful Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) told The Island that numbers didn’t matter but what mattered were initiatives for the betterment of the country. He stressed that though they were small in number they had the authority to take strong actions.

“We believe that CEB should be modernised and adopt changes in the energy market to resolve the upcoming energy crisis which is our responsibility as we have the capacity to face such a crisis,” he said

Sri Lanka’s current energy policy focuses more on adding renewable energy to the national grid. Therefore, establishment of a consistent, efficient framework within CEB is more crucial at this point of time while focusing on obtaining maximum support of the knowledgeable and skillful engineers of CEB to implement the national policy, he added.

Pathirage said: “CEB should carry forward with short term, mid-term and long term reforms to address efficiency of the operational framework of CEB and to improve financial position of CEB. Use of modern technology is inevitable to move forward to face the Energy Crisis and adopt a national policy framework”.

Senior Electrical Engineers Union of CEB, President Dr. H. M. Wijekoon Banda, said that a proposal would be made shortly to modernize CEB, to expedite the construction of low cost power plants, to avoid high cost emergency power purchases and to keep electricity tariffs stable for the next five years.

“A major obstacle in implementation of CEB’s plans is limited time available for experienced senior electrical engineers who hold senior positions to continue in the same positions. This becomes a huge hurdle in continuity of such plans and such plans can become inactive in the long run,” Dr. Banda said.

He explained that CEB lost the services of senior electrical engineers with experience in specialized fields when they reached 60 years of age. Although the retirement age for specialists in the medical field was 65 years, veteran engineers were required to retire at the age of 60. “Due to the compulsory retirement requirement, senior electrical engineers will have limited time to work in the posts such as General Manager, Additional General Managers and Deputy General Managers which come under top management categories of the Board. This situation adversely affects the accountability and performance of such positions,” Dr. Banda elaborated.

To continue implementing the long-term generation, transmission and distribution schemes of CEB and service to the customers, a decision should be made quickly to obtain the services of Senior Electrical Engineers for a sufficient period of time, he said adding that it should be noted that Ceylon Electricity Board Act too had provisions for those changes.

Dr. Banda said CEB was having a strength of more than 800 Engineers.  The Senior Engineers Association of CEB also indicated that increasing the retirement age to 61 as an interim solution was prudent at present as Senior Engineers possessed required skills and knowledge to accommodate the national policy and make it a reality.

The CEB Senior Engineers pointed out that the above recommendation of extending retirement age to 61 could be reviewed after one year of implementation to arrive at a permanent solution which could be adopted.

They also said it would minimize the knowledge gap of young engineers as the time would give them the chance to groom young engineers to face upcoming energy challenges. In line with this, the Senior Engineers Association recommends that modernising of organizational structure should be adopted to promote young engineers on experience and seniority.

They stressed that the purchase of emergency power to overcome the power shortage should no longer be a solution. The Association is confident that the above proposals will have a positive impact on maximising the contribution of senior and young engineers to achieve the target of generating 70 percent of renewable energy by 2030 in line with the government policy. The detailed proposal recommended by the Senior Electrical Engineers Union to solve the power crisis is due to be released at the end of November.

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Enter correct age of children when setting up email accounts for them- Police Crimes Division




Officials of the Police Crime Division told the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity that email accounts for school children should not be set up giving parents details but by entering the correct age of the children.

The officials pointed out that as online education has become a necessity it was necessary to provide the children with mobile phones (Smart Phone active) to access computer devices. However, they pointed out that by providing the parents’ data for this purpose when giving smart phones and setting up email accounts, the children will have the opportunity to access any website. But, if the information including the correct age of the children are provided, the internet system itself will control the ability and access of the children to view inappropriate videos and websites.

The Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity met under the Chairmanship of Member of Parliament Dilan Perera in order to discuss the program to be carried out in collaboration with the National Reconciliation and Children and Women Bureau .


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New legislation being drafted to address land, labour, capital and technology laws – Presidential Advisor




Addressing the Panel Discussion of the National Law Conference 2023, Presidential Advisor Dr. R.H.S Samaratunga, emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of land laws, labour laws, capital laws, and technology laws in order to meet the requirements of a competitive economy. He noted that the Presidential Secretariat is currently examining a series of new legislation drafts that address these four crucial sectors.

The National Law Conference 2023/24 was held from June 02 to June 04, 2023 at The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya. The 2nd segment of the conference focused on sectoral views on strengthening the economy and a number of local and foreign key stakeholders gave their comments. They also commended the effort of the BASL in organizing such a conference and appreciated the government’s genuine efforts to recover the country from the crisis and extended their support in rebuilding the country focusing on areas in which they could contribute to.

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March 12 Movement, MP Rajakaruna ask Prez to sack gold-smuggling MP



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Declaring that Muslim National Alliance (MNA) MP Ali Sabri Raheem couldn’t continue to be an MP after being fined for an abortive attempt to smuggle in Rs 78.2 mn worth of gold and smartphones, the March 12 Movement has appealed to the executive, legislature and the judiciary to sack the MP, who, they say, has brought Parliament into disrepute.

Civil society activist Rohana Hettiarachchi, on behalf of the March 12 Movement, told The Island that MP Raheem should be dealt with the way the late President J.R. Jayewardene had handled the case of Kandy District UNP MP Anura Daniel. Jayewardene had removed MP Daniel, who was nabbed for a similar smuggling offence, Hettiarachchi said, urging President Ranil Wickremesinghe to take the initiative.

Pointing out that Customs had fined MP Raheem Rs 7.4 mn over two weeks back, Hettiarachchi found fault with the President and Parliament for failing to take tangible measures in that regard. The All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), which fielded Raheem from the Puttalam District at the last parliamentary election (2020), couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the MP’s despicable action, Hettiarachchi said.

Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen, who entered Parliament on the SJB ticket, is the leader of ACMC.

Hettiarachchi, who is also the Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections), said that the government conveniently forgot to investigate whether MP Raheem smuggled in gold, smartphones or any other items on earlier occasions, since he entered Parliament. Since 01 March this year MP Raheem had gone abroad (to Dubai) on five occasions before he was caught, Hettiarachchi said, finding fault with Parliament for not going the whole hog.

There should have been no holds barred investigation, Hettiarachchi pointed out and said Customs owed an explanation why a maximum fine was not imposed on the gold smuggling MP. Instead, the MP was fined Rs 7.4 mn and allowed to proceed to Parliament where he voted against a government motion.

Hettiarachchi said that the Customs response to the detection should be examined taking into consideration Customs (Amendment) Act (No 83 of 1988).

Responding to another query, Hettiarachchi said that in spite of leaders of several political parties requesting the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to take up this issue, the Speaker seemed to be determined not to get involved.

SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna yesterday told The Island that though ACMC nominee Raheem entered Parliament on the MNA ticket, only President Ranil Wickremesinghe could compel the offending MP to quit Parliament. “That is the reality,” the Gampaha District MP said, pointing out that MP Raheem served the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa administration.

Recalling how MP Raheem voted for the 21 Amendment to the Constitution in October 2020, MP Rajakaruna said that the MP also voted for Ranil Wickremesinghe at the House vote to elect an MP to complete the remainder of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term.

MP Raheem voting with the Opposition on the motion to remove Janaka Ratnayake as the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission hadn’t changed the relationship between the two parties (the government and the MNA), MP Rajakaruna said. According to him, those responsible turned a blind eye to the incident.

Civil society member Hettiarachchi said that they sought information relating to MP Raheem’s case from Customs in terms of the RTI (Right to Information) Act as the crux of the matter is the imposition of a lower fine regardless of the provision to declare harshest fine in terms of Customs law.

Hettiarachchi raised the possibility of the government interfering with MP Raheem’s case as there couldn’t be any other reason for Customs to impose a relatively lower fine.

MP Raheem is on record as having claimed that Customs fined him Rs 7.4 mn whereas a close associate of him who smuggled the undisclosed gold and smartphones was fined just Rs 100,000.

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