(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the charge sheet related to the removal of the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has been prepared and all the representatives of the ruling party in the Parliament have expressed their agreement.
Addressing a press conference held at the Ministry of Power and Energy yesterday (29) morning, the Minister said it has been realized that Janaka Ratnayake, chairman of the Public Utility Commission, has been acting on his personal opinion and not on the opinion of the Commission.
He said the Chairman who pushed the whole country against the wall is also responsible for the power cuts and has misled other officials of the commission and worked without their approval and put the entire people of the country in a difficult situation.
Because of this, he said that there are several methods to remove Mr. Janaka Ratnayake and the most appropriate method will be used.
The minister said that the resolution against the chairman of the Public Utility Commission will be presented on the first day of the next parliament meeting and the members of the ruling party are ready to support it.
The Minister said that Mr. Janaka Ratnayake is not qualified to work in that position and also mentioned that he has been informed by a parliamentary committee that he is not qualified to work in a government institution.
The Minister further mentioned that when Mr. Janaka Ratnayake applied for the position of Chairman of the Commercial Bank, the Central Bank has recommended that he is not qualified for that.
“At this time, we realized the reality and made a request to change the system and increase the rates. This request has been rejected not as a decision of the commission. The other three members of the Public Utilities Commission have also confirmed this.”
Minister Wijesekera said there are five members in the Public Utility Commission and one has resigned last year. Now there are four members, and the maintaining quorum is three.
“A majority vote is required to make a decision. But we realized that the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, Janaka Ratnayake, the owner of the Trillion Group, has been acting on his personal opinion and not on the opinion of the commission in the whole time.”
He further said on January 9, the Cabinet gave its approval to change the system of electricity rates. When it was sent to the Public Utilities Commission, the Chairman of the Commission had sent a reply to the Secretary of the Cabinet. This letter has been sent without the approval of the Commission. This letter has been sent as an individual using the Commission. Deputy Chairman Udeni Wickramasinghe, Members Mohan Samaranayake and Chathurika Wijesinghe all say that the letter sent to the Cabinet on the 12th was sent without approval. The members have informed that the letter sent by the chairman using the name of the commission is illegal and a violation of the Public Utilities Commission Act.”
“Before being appointed as the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, the former President had forwarded his name to the Central Bank to see the suitability report when he had requested to be appointed as the Chairman of the Commercial Bank. Due to the allegations against him, the Central Bank also refused to issue the qualification certificate at that time. In 2012, even a selection committee has named him that he is not capable of holding any position. Therefore, we are dealing with this matter from the legal side.”
“The chairman accused that electricity is not provided even though it is possible. We completely deny the allegation. We have shown a way to do that. As of this morning, the Electricity Board has paid 112 rupees to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation for fuel. If we want to run twenty-four hours, we must buy private power plants. Then we have to give them fuel from the oil corporation. It is not possible to recover one institution by making it inoperable. These are the decisions taken in the past. There are allegations that Janaka Ratnayake’s political decisions were the cause of these things. In the past, those who did not find the cost of these institutions have thought about the methods and have worked depending on the Treasury. From January 1, we will not receive any money from the Treasury or the Central Bank as per the debt restructuring plan.
“The Human Rights Commission had called the officials of our ministry. The participants informed us in writing that they exerted various pressures on the agreed matters. They have been pressured to include individual points despite the fact that they cannot agree on them. Then they said that all the decisions we take should be approved by the board of directors. So we can’t make a decision. Neither the Public Utility Commission nor the Human Rights Commission can influence anybody. In this way, these people will bring the central bank in a few days and say that this tax system is not good and should be changed. Bring the banks and ask them to reduce this interest. Therefore, we will certainly work to present the facts against the members of the Human Rights Commission to the court. In particular, the secretary has informed me about this. There is an allegation that they are going to deal with the law after filing charges that their officials have disrupted the program of the Human Rights Commission. It is a serious charge. My secretary said there is a recording of the discussion that day.”
Taking to Twitter, the Minister said last year CEB drained available water resources for power generation to have No power cuts at the beginning of year that resulted in 4-6 hour power cuts mid-year. Economic crisis, cash flow management issues & inefficiencies led to Fuel shortages that made things worse.
He said that Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) pricing mechanism has made it financial stable to run its operations in the last few months without depending on CBSL & Treasury. But with continuous burden on CPC by CEB it will make it impossible for CPC to sustain &and make payments timely for a continuous supply.
As of Sunday, CEB’s outstanding amounts to key sectors are 112 Billion rupees to CPC, 40 Billion rupees Renewable Energy Suppliers, 4 Billion rupees to Roof Top Solar, 80 Billion rupees Private Power Plants, 35 Billion rupees Coal Payments and 10 Billion rupees Monthly Bank Loans Interest for February.