Sandun Jayawardana, in Times Online, 9 October 2019, with this title “Over Rs 52 billion spent on emergency power purchases since 2016”
The Government had to spend Rs. 52.23 billion on emergency power purchases since 2016 due to delays in completing scheduled power plants, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) was told on Tuesday (8). The revelation came when top officials of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) came before COPE.
COPE Chairman JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti noted that the Government had spent Rs. 8568 million on emergency power purchases in 2016, Rs. 19, 405 million in 2017 and Rs. 11, 581 million in 2018. So far in 2019, emergency power purchases amounting to Rs. 12, 674 million had already been made by the month of July, it was further disclosed. Accordingly, COPE observed that the State had spent Rs. 52, 230 million, or Rs. 52.23 billion on emergency power since 2016 up until now. All these purchases were from outside the CEB’s approved long term power generation plan.
CEB General Manager S.D.W. Gunawardana stated that the purchasing of emergency power had come about due to delays in completing long term power generation projects included in the utility’s power generation plan. CEB officials claimed that the dispute between the CEB and the Public Utilities Commission of Si Lanka, (PUCSL); the power sector regulator, had contributed to projects being delayed. It was also noted that some of the power plants were being held up due to cases being filed in court.
Officials told COPE that work on adding 575 MW of electricity to the national grid should have commenced from 2017 onwards and completed by 2020, but this had not happened.
The CEB’s purchase of 50 diesel generators of 1MW each at a cost of Rs. 3 billion also came in for scrutiny by COPE. It was noted that the generators had functioned for just over 39, 000 hours from January to July this year but had been non-operational owing to breakdowns for 73, 398 hours during the same time period. CEB officials blamed the matter on the difficulty of transporting diesel to the generators but insisted all generators are fully functional now.
A PERTINENT COMMENT from Ivan Amarasinghe in UK, 10October 2019