Power and Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake in a Cabinet paper has proposed to the Cabinet on April 2, 2019 that the dispute between the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) should be resolved amicably without seeking legal action, informed sources said.
He had pointed out this fact after recalling and referring a cabinet decision taken on May 22, 2018 where it was decided to direct all Heads of Institutions under their purview, to desist from initiating legal proceedings against other Government Institutions, with a view to settling disputes, if any, between them.
The said cabinet decision further highlighted that such disputes should be settled through a negotiation process with the assistance of all other relevant authorities.
This cabinet decision was taken after President Maithripala Sirisena informed the Cabinet, of instances brought to his notice, where one state institution has initiated legal proceedings against another utilizing public funds, with a view to resolving a dispute between the two institutions which could have been resolved amicably by adopting other means.
The President had said that situations of this nature were not conducive to the affairs of the Government.
Sources revealed that Minister Karunanayake had reportedly asked Finance Secretary under whose purview the PUCSL falls at the Cabinet meeting held on April 2, to bring the Cabinet decision dated on May 22, 2018 to the notice of the PUCSL and inform the authorities of the PUCSL to strictly abide by the said Cabinet decision.
However, PUCSL Director Corporate Communications Jayanat Herat told the Daily Mirror that he was not aware of a cabinet paper presented by Minister Karunanayake in this April, but he was aware of the Cabinet paper in 2018,
Director Corporate Communications Herat also said that they had already filed a case against CEB for neglecting to submit certain important reports resulting a considerable factor for the recent power outages.
Accordingly, the CEB had neglected submitting reports on power interruptions, generations, power plants and water capacities on power generating tanks, etc to the Commission since May 27, 2018.
“The negligent tactic of the CEB becomes an offence under the PUCSL Act No 35 of 2002,” Mr. Herat said.
“The PUCSL filed the case under the powers vested with it as it is the regulator for government entity and responsible for policy formulation and regulation of the electric power distribution,” he added.
Nevertheless, Mr Herat said the PUCSL filed a case in the District Court of Colombo in 2018 also which they won, against CEB as it failed to pay the annual Licence Levy on six licences granted by the PUCSL amounting to Rs. 162,066,600.
Meanwhile, PUCSL lawyer Kithsiri Liyanage told the Daily Mirror that nine accused were cited in the case filed by the PUCSL, with the CEB being listed as the first accused. The other accused are CEB directors.
“If the CEB was found guilty, the Magistrate could impose a fine of not less than Rs. 10 million and not more than Rs. 100 million,” Mr. Liyanage said. (Sheain Fernandopulle)