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Fate of Rs 25 billion CEB consumer deposit fund in doubt – Activist



By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

There was a possibility that over Rs. 25 billion in consumer deposits with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) would not be refunded due to the dissolution of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), Secretary of the Union of Electricity Consumers (UEC) Sanjeewa Dhammika told The Island yesterday.

When a person obtained an electricity connection from the CEB, he or she had to place a deposit at the regional CEB Engineer’s office. As per Sri Lanka Electricity Act, No. 20 of 2009, the CEB has to pay consumers an interest on those deposits, Dhammika said.Section 28.3 of the Act says ‘(3): Where any sum of money is provided to a distribution licensee by way of security in pursuance of this section, the licensee (CEB) shall pay interest on such sum of money at such rate as may from time to time be fixed by the licensee with the approval of the Commission (PUCSL), for the period in which it remains in the hands of the licensee.’

Dhammika said: “None of the governments has paid this interest although the PUCSL annually declares the interest rate that has to be paid. Now, there is about Rs. 25 billion of our money with the CEB. Since the PUCSL is to be dissolved, who is there to keep an eye on this money?”

Dhammika said that with Rs. 25 billion the government could construct a 100 megawatt power plant. The CEB should not be allowed to swindle the Rs. 25 billion that belonged to the electricity consumers, he insisted.

“The PUCSL was the only place we could go to over issues related to electricity. It has already resolved over 6,000 cases. If the PUCSL is dissolved what are we to do? Are we to take legal action? How many of us can afford to go to court?”

Certain sections were trying to create the impression that PUCSL didn’t let the CEB work. After the present government came to power, the PUCSL was asked to approve three LNG plants and two were approved within a month, he said.

“The problem with the remaining project is that the tender process has not been followed. The PUCSL can’t approve a project that didn’t follow a tender process. It’s against the Act.”

From 2016, the PUCSL has approved the construction of power plants that could have added 1,450 megawatts to the national grid, Dhammika said. Those plants however were not constructed by the CEB.”

Dhammika warned that once the PUCSL was gone it was likely that electricity tariffs would be increased. “As long as the PUCSL existed, it determined what the price of a unit of electricity was. Without a regulator, the CEB could quote any price they want.”

The PUCSL had commenced giving certificates for electricians and so far about 20,000 had received accreditation, Dhammika said Dhammika said, adding that there were around 45,000 electricians in the country and that 90% of them did not have professional certification.

“They only have experience. The PUCSL has commenced an initiative to provide them with accreditation. The PUCSL was also to introduce a scheme that allowed electricians to study and sit for NVQs. Electricians from 20 districts have already been identified for the programme. If the PUCSL is dissolved, all this will stop. We urge the government not to go ahead with this disastrous policy.”

Minister Alahapperuma was not immediately available for comment.

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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando



by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman



The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment



National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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