Government is poised to raise electricity rates by 8 to 10 per cent and consumers are up in arms. They point out such an increase would result in a further rise in the cost of living.
A cross section of people including shop-keepers and members of the general public, said the measure was extremely unfair
A retired engineer currently operating his own timber mill questioned as to why the hydropower generation advantage was not being passed on to the people.
“During the last few weeks we have seen pictures of the main reservoirs reaching spill level. This means hydro power generation could be increased. Why isn’t the advantage of the rains at least passed on to the consumers,” Amaranath Karunaratna asked.
Sarath Amerasekera said the price hike was unfair, since the burden of losses suffered by the CEB was being simply passed onto the general public.
The price of electricity he said was already one of the highest in the Asia region. He said if proper infrastructure was put in place the cost to the CEB could be decreased and the Board would be able to absorb the losses.
Mr. Amarasekera stressed that electricity was a basic public necessity similar to water. For this reason alone the price hike was totally unacceptable, he said.
Passer-by Sarath Fernando said if the rate for 90 units was raised it would cause a considerable burden and said he could not afford to pay more than Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 per month. He added that if the price hike was to affect those consuming only 60 units the measure was even more unfair as these were poor households.
Shop-keeper R. Sajaka said that the general public would have to tolerate the situation for the sake of the development of the country and for better rewards in the future. He said judgement of the new measures could be gauged in only around five year’s time and were necessary for the sake of fiscal stability.
M.F.L Jesley, a shop-owner-cum manager of a jewellery store said the price hike would have an adverse effect on his jewellery business.
The first change would be the lights which displayed the jewellery. Spotlights would have to make way for CFL bulbs. He forecast a drop in sales.
Another shop manager Rizwie Rashiwie, manager of an electrical goods store said the price hike would have an effect on the cost of overheads but would not result in a price increase.
Fowzie Ismail, the manager of “Abdeen’s” said that sales which had already decreased would drop further due to the price hike. He said he would not be able to bear the cost.
Sampath Perera who manages a shoe shop in Kollupitiya, said sales were expected to drop further as a result of the price hike and the added cost of display.
Housewife Amara Vithanage said the price hike would add a further burden to the high cost of living.
“We are already paying a high price for food. I cannot imagine how we can cope with the increased cost of electricity,” she said.