Sri Lanka power crisis 65-pct due to politicians: Ravi

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s current electricity crisis is 65 percent due political failures while the regulator also shared blame, Power Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.

"It is the inability to take political decisions that is 65 percent to blame for the crisis," Karunanayake told parliament.

"There was no backbone. I am being asked (by ex-minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya) why I did not take emergency power.

"There was two years, why did he not take power? This is the problem. But there is no point in blaming, we have to go forward.

He said a conflict between the Public Utilities Commission and the Ceylon Electricity Board has also contributed.

"This is going too far, we have to solve it," Karunanayake said.  "It is asked why did you not take Embilipitiya (a 100MW expired plant)? The CEB has said it is necessary. But the PUCSL has said it should not be taken.

"But it is generating for a year with no problem. "

Meanwhile the CEB’s engineers union claimed that the PUCSL was 50 percent to blame for the current crisis, but there was accountability for political authorities who had made appointments.

The PUCSL in turn has said the CEB has poor project management skills and cannot implement projects. Industry analysts say in general the cheapest plants proposed by the CEB such as coal or large hydro mysteriously face a lot of opposition, while expensive plants do not.

Analysts also say Sri Lanka does not have permanent ministry secretaries, after changes to the constitution in 1971 breaking an independent civil service commission and in 1979 where the President now appoints ministry secretaries at his pleasure.





Though a constitutional council now approves senior judges, and some senior department heads, the independent public service commission had not been restored.

As a result, ministry secretaries who resisted bad decisions before 1971 now get sent to a ‘pool’ if they take the correct decision, and are forced to take a wrong decision in order to stay in the job.

In another dangerously unstable provision, the ministry secretary loses office as soon as the cabinet is dissolved.

Karunanayake said he hoped to give uninterrupted power during the upcoming New Year period and resolved to end power cuts by the Vesak full moon day, which falls on May 18. (Colombo/Apr04/2019-SB)

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