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Suspension of costly private power purchase, Covid give relief to CEB

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‘Quite baffling Rs 2.8 bn standing charge, Rs 300 mn rent undermined state enterprise’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The suspension of power purchases from three Independent Power Producers (IPPs) namely Ace Power Matara (20 MW), Ace Power Embilipitiya (100 MW) and Asia Power Sapugaskanda (50 MW) had contributed to the improvement of the financial situation at the CEB, authoritative sources told The Island.

Sources said that the CEB had suspended the agreements on 01 March pending re-negotiation with IPPs as it was felt the annual standing charge alone for three power stations amounted to Rs. 2.8 bn was unfair by the procurer. The decision had been taken at the behest of the then Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, who relentlessly pushed for measures required to ease the burden on the cash-strapped state enterprise, sources said, adding that the increase in hydropower output that automatically lessened the country’s dependence on private diesel plants and a significant drop in the demand for electricity due to the crisis caused by the raging Covid-19 epidemic had eased pressure on the CEB. The electricity regulator (PUCSL) is having negotiations with IPPs to finalise approval of a four-year extension of contracts.

Sources said that during Alahapperuma’s tenure as the Power Minister the government had taken the furnace-oil fueled power plants off the national grid, thereby greatly reducing toxic fumes emitted by them.

The three IPPs had strongly pushed for extensions on the basis that being furnace-oil-fired, they were much cheaper for the CEB than auto-diesel-powered plants.

The PUCSL didn’t respond to The Island query regarding the status of CEB’s agreements with Asia Power and ACE Power Embilipitiya as well as Matara? The PUCSL also didn’t explain its role in the discussions with the IPPs.

Gamini Lokuge, last wee, replaced Alahapperuma as the Power Minister, in a mini-cabinet re-shuffle. Alahapperuma received the media portfolio. Sources said that in spite of the ministerial change the Power Ministry was expected to continue with Alahapperuma’s initiatives to curb waste, corruption and other irregularities.

Sources said that two days after Alahapperuma’s exit, the ministry had launched a major building project at Narahenpita to bring all its offices located at different places under one roof. Sources said that the government spent staggering Rs 300 mn annually on renting 37 buildings in Colombo and its suburbs.

Power Ministry spokesperson Sulakshana Jayawardana was not immediately available for comment.

Sources said that though the government had suspended major construction projects due to severe financial constraints, the then power minister Alahapperuma had received the go ahead from Cabinet for the Narahenpita project after he had explained the long-term benefits of it.

Alahapperuma was shifted from the Power ministry to the Media portfolio the day before he was to complete one-year there. Several weeks before the Cabinet reshuffle, CEB Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath was replaced by M.M.C. Ferdinando. Ferdinando served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure.

Major changes took place at the Power ministry in spite of significant improvements at the ministry with the CEB making a profit in the second quarter since 2010.



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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign

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… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds

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Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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