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Wednesday May 18th, 2022

Ceylon Electricity Board chairman steps down amid Sri Lanka power crisis

ECONOMYNEXT – Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) chairman/member M M C Ferdinando has handed over his resignation effective February 01, a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa revealed on Wednesday (26).

Fernando said in the letter that he was stepping down due to personal reasons.

Ferdinando was one of the signatories to Sri Lanka’s controversial agreement with the US-based New Fortress Energy which together with Sri Lanka’s LTL group proposed to build a 350 megawatt gas-fired power plant in Kerawalapitiya, north of Colombo, on July 14, 2021.

As part of the deal, New Fortress will have gas supply rights to the Kerawalapitya Power Complex, where 310 MW of power has been operational from September 23, 2021 and an additional 700 MW scheduled to be added, of which 350 MW is to be operational by 2023.

A CEB spokesperson said so far no new appointment has been announced for the vacant chairman position yet.

Meanwhile Additional General Manager, Corporate Strategy, D C Rohantha Abeysekara has been appointed as the New General Manager, with former acting GM Susantha Perera resigning from the position on Tuesday (25).

Perera was appointed by Chairman Ferdinando in early January. However, the appointment created a conflict in the management, with the CEB Engineers Union warning of an escalation of trade union action claiming that the appointment was made illegally.

The CEB’s general manager is appointed on the basis of seniority and under CEB law, the GM has to retire at 60 years.

This principle has been followed since the beginning of the CEB, though the minister in charge can extend the service under certain circumstances.

Sri Lanka this year extended the retirement age of state workers to 65 years. The CEB Engineers Union had opposed attempts to extend the service of M R Ranatunga.

Ranatunga went to court in order to stay in office. Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal did not issue an interim order at a hearing last week extending the term but ordered an interim general manager to be appointed until the case was completed.

Chairman Ferdinando then appointed Susantha Perera, a former employee as ‘Acting GM’ on January 17.

However, with Perera handing in his resignation as GM on Tuesday (25), Abeysekara assumed duties as the new GM on Wednesday.

“We are in a crisis situation. Let’s see how we can manage it going forward. I believe everyone will give their fully committed effort to solve the issues,” Abeysekara said after assuming duties. (Colombo/Jan26/2022)


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