Trade association representatives yesterday expressed serious concern over the all-island power outage which brought the entire country into a standstill and cautioned any repetition would hamper the productivity and escalate costs, making doing business further difficult in an uncertain environment. With the country witnessing for the first time in years three incidents of power cuts over a period of six months,
Verité Research highlighted that such events suggest there are “serious shortcomings in either the quality of investment or the quality of maintenance” that exists in Sri Lanka. “This underlines the importance of ensuring that the public sector institutions are accountable for their performance and that the public sector decision-making is open to professional scrutiny,” said the economic think tank to Mirror Business. While the business community was least expecting yet another lengthy disruption as experienced on March 13 evening, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Samantha Ranatunga asserted
it is essential for the relevant authorities to get to the bottom of the situation, resolve it and make certain such incidents are never repeated. “When you have unplanned power interruption, on top of generator use that will push the cost of production up, it is going to hamper the industry. If you take the principle of us wanting to be globally competitive and attract foreign investment, we have to be mindful as to how we will nip it in the bud as soon as possible,” he said. “We need to get the basic fundamentals right for us to at least be in the race. Let’s hope sanity will prevail,” added Ranatunga. Reflecting similar sentiments, National Chamber of Commerce President Thilak Godamanna opined that while incidents such as the tripping of the substation at Biyagama on Sunday (13), which according to the Power and Renewable Energy Ministry led to the prolonged power cut, are unavoidable, measures should have been taken beforehand to ensure back-up was available. “We cannot afford to have any unexpected power cuts at a time when we are pitching Sri Lanka to the international community as a country that has a seamless business environment. The detrimental effects on businesses and industries are obvious.
This will be a negative impact on investors who have some idea of establishing ventures in this nation,” asserted Godamanna. Common concerns expressed by potential investor at forums are the availability of uninterrupted supply of electricity and water across the island nation. The absence of a ‘steady’ supply of utilities, in some of Sri Lanka’s upcoming provinces is noted to have hampered their decision in setting up heavy industries in the country. Meanwhile, Ceylon National Chamber of Industries Chairman Tissa Seneviratne, while urging the need for better systems commended the Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman for taking responsibility by opting to resign from his post. However, Seneviratne advised the institution to focus on its progress by doing away with obsolete machinery and equipment which adds to the uncertainty. “We need an action plan to put this right once and for all. It’s high time we think of that and go ahead in an expedited manner,” he said. (SAA)