ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Is the minister pandering to CEB’s corruption and woeful waste?

The people are most despondently and despairingly awaiting the electrifying news from the C.E.B. Probably in no country in the world, unless under the rule of a despot are the people so assailed from all sides. One is reminded of the Sinhala adage, "water always flows down the lowest point". The people are at the highest point only prior to an election. After that they are pushed down by the very parliamentarians they elected.

It is a fact that electricity gives only one shock, but the government on the same issue is at least delivering three shocks.

  • The people pay huge salaries, innumerable perks, pensions, etc to Ministers with the fervent expectation that they will organize the institutions under them to be efficient, cost effective and people friendly. The C.E.B. certainly, does not conform to any of these expectations.

  • The employees in the C.E.B. have reportedly defrauded and spirited away colossal sums of money collected from the people but they carry on regardless.

  • The board inspite of the fact that they claim to be in the red, continues to add to their cadre, indulges in purchasing luxury vehicles and tolerates wanton waste and corruption.

The question on everyone's lips is what exactly is the minister doing? Surely he must be at least now aware of the state of the C.E.B. after the scathing COPE report on it. The whole country is awaiting some kind of reaction from the Government, since any positive action would bring some relief to the burdened people. But it will probably be a wait in futility?

The Minister of Power and Energy makes statements of forebodings and warnings, almost implying that it is the people who are responsible for this perilous situation and that he is helpless to make any concessions to the people.

The Minister should be asked the following questions:

  • Have any new appointments been made to the Board, reportedly running at a loss, thus heaping further burdens on the people?

  • Has the Minister taken any steps to recover the people's monies fraudulently taken by the C.E.B., to improve its financial status, or is the Minister trying to offset these losses by taking more from the people?

  • Is the Minister still permitting the payment of bonuses, purchasing of luxury vehicles, ostentatious public shows etc to continue as before, while doling out dark and dismal stories to the people. If the Minister can come before the people and truthfully assert that he has taken every possible step to conserve expenditure in the C.E.B. and there is still a short fall, the people will no doubt rally round ungrudgingly to help. But in the present situation the people will certainly feel they are being cheated, exploited and robbed. The people are called on to switch off lights while the road lights keep on burning.

The Postal Department has evolved a system where one pays a lump sum for a certain number of words then only a unit payment for each extra word. The C.E.B. should also adopt a similar structure, which will certainly be acceptable to the people. The rate per unit may be increased appropriately between the slabs.

For example if a stipulated slab is 90 units and if a person uses for example 95 units he should pay only the original amount for the first 90 units together with 5 x (unit cost above 90) and so on. The present unconscionable and punitive increases imposed on a user as he crosses a slab is most heartless and even vindictive.

We put this to the direct attention of the Minister and particularly to the President, who is stridently claiming that this Government is fully focused on alleviating the burdens on the people. The people should certainly not be called upon to pay for the fun and frolic of the C.E.B. The people are already making huge sacrifices and also suffering grievously both physically and mentally from the effects of the on-going war.

By Asoka Devendra, Maharagama

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