UNP Adjournment Motion on electricity price hike The UNP on Thursday moved an adjournment motion in Parliament on the proposed hike in the electricity tariff. The motion was moved by MP Tissa Attanayaka and seconded by MP Sajith Premadasa. The following are views expressed by both Government and Opposition MPs during the debate: – UNP [...]


A charged House generates AC/DC current on the debate


UNP Adjournment Motion on electricity price hike

The UNP on Thursday moved an adjournment motion in Parliament on the proposed hike in the electricity tariff. The motion was moved by MP Tissa Attanayaka and seconded by MP Sajith Premadasa.

The following are views expressed by both Government and Opposition MPs during the debate: -

UNP MP Tissa Attanayake:

The increase in electricity prices affects everyone in the country. The President said in his May Day speech that those who consume 60 units would not be affected, and now there are conflicting claims that this increase would take place. There is no justification for the increase in electricity prices at this juncture. The people suffered for 30 years due to the war, and now they are suffering due to the high cost of living. We propose that this tariff hike be immediately stopped.

UNP MP Sajith Premadasa seconded the adjournment motion:-

This electricity tariff hike will hit those in the lower rungs of society, while the higher-ups will be protected. The small and medium industries will have to pay an increase of 9% in their electricity bills, while those in the higher rungs will have to pay 5%. This means a grocery store will have to pay 9% more for electricity, while supermarkets will only pay 5% more.

Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne:

“The UNP is attempting to make political capital out of the electricity hike. The UNP, when it was in power, increased electricity prices several times. In 1988, the UNP regime increased electricity prices by 45%. In 1991, electricity was increased by 23%, and again by 31% in 2001. Those days the number of people who had access to electricity was very limited. Now there are far more consumers. If the UNP had taken measures to start the coal power projects when it was in power, this situation would not have arisen. They only started diesel powered power stations which make electricity more costly.

DNA MP Sunil Handunetti:

Hydroelectric power is sufficient to provide electricity for the people who use 90 units a month. The generation cost of hydroelectricity is Rs. 3 per unit. The CEB suffered a loss of Rs. 33 billion because of depreciation of the Rupee, and is among the institutions that incur the highest losses in Sri Lanka. Usually, people tell tall tales on April 1, but this year on May 1, the country’s leader told a tall tale about reducing electricity prices. There were more Government members present when the ‘No Confidence’ motion was taken against Minister Dilan Perera. This means the Government has no interest in this matter.

UNP MP Wijayadasa Rajapaksha:

The main reason that the electricity tariff has to be increased this way is due to the waste, corruption and inefficiency within the CEB. This will further burden the people. Both electricity and water are essentials. If the Government is unable to give these basic needs to the people at a reasonable rate, it should not stay in office. The Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) exposed the corruption within the CEB. Has the Government conducted any investigation to stop these corrupt practices? Has the Government held anyone responsible for these acts of corruption?

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage:

The Government has not made any decision so far to implement the new price formula. The power tariff will not be increased for consumers whose electricity usage does not exceed 60 units a month. A percentage of relief would be introduced to the consumers who use less than 180 units per month. The Government has given a lot of relief to the people incurring massive losses.

UNP MP Eran Wickramaratna:

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the CEB’s proposed draft on electricity tariff hike, without taking into consideration representations made by the public to the PUC. Even though no final decision has been taken on the electricity price hike, we believe that there would be no relief for the public through the new system.

Petroleum Resources Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa:

Since this Government came to power, the number of people with access to electricity has risen from 34% to 97%. Those who benefited the most are the rural poor. The President took the brave decision to set up a coal power plant.

If we want keep down prices, we have to have power-cuts of six hours every day. All developing countries are facing power crisis. We have diversified to introduce coal power, and we are also looking at introducing wind generated power. People must also be responsible. As there is a power crisis in the country, they must also conserve electricity.

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayaka:

There are conflicting voices within Government over the price increase. Who do you believe? The present Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi or former Minister Champika Ranawaka. The reason for the electricity tariff hike is corrupt practices such as the hedging deal. The Government promised power subsidies to fishermen, but that has not happened.

It’s like all the other broken promises in the other sectors. The President approved this increase, but later he goes and makes a public announcement that he will reduce. Minister Wimal Weerawansa blamed Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundear for the rise, but why is he not blaming the President. If the Government can send the Chief Justice home in 24 hours, you can send Jayasundera home in 24 minutes.

Wildlife Conservation Minister Vijithamuni Soysa:

During the UNP period, when the JVP said to turn off the power, the entire country lived in the dark. In the present year we have no such problems. Today, electricity consumers number over 4.8 million. The Government also has to give subsidised power to essential sectors such as hospitals and schools. For street lights alone, the Government has to give subsidieSs of around Rs 1,126 million. Areas such as Moneragala, where I come from, people have benefited under this Government. Electricity was a luxury item under the UNP. This is not so now. Is the UNP saying it will not increase taxes if it comes to power?

UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera:

The people are suffering under the spiraling cost of living, and now the Government has decided to raise the electricity tariff, where, in certain instances, it is as high as 70%. The worst affected by this are consumers at the lower end of the scale. The Government wants to keep the poor people in the dark, while the rich can enjoy luxuries.

Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi:

This power crisis is not something the Government can tackle alone. All over the world there is a growing demand for power and Sri Lanka too is affected. We need to work on this collectively and put aside partisan politics. Only President Mahinda Rajapaksa was brave to go ahead with the coal power projects which the UNP did not start due to public pressure.

If you are in power, you must be able to take difficult decisions. Those using less than 60 units per month will not have to pay increased prices. This Government provides power supplies without any blackouts, unlike during the UNP regime. Since the war ended, we also have to expand the electricity supply to the north and east.

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