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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will finally end daily scheduled power cuts from Thursday February 16 a year after the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) began load-shedding as the island nation went deep into its worst currency crisis in decades.

Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told reporters Thursday morning that all areas of the island will receive uninterrupted power starting Thursday, made possible by an electricity tariff hike that was approved by the regulator the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) the previous day amid stiff resistance.

The CEB began daily planned power outages in February 2022 when Sri Lanka ran out of dollars to purchase fuel to generate thermal power. Small-scale protests organised against then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa intensified after power cuts extended to 13 hours a day in March that year, triggering a wave of anti-government protests around the country, culminating in Rajapakasa’s resignation in July.

On Wednesday February 15 2023, the CEB implemented a 66 percent increase in the electricity tariff following a protracted conflict between the CEB and the PUCSL. The PUCSL Wednesday evening informed the CEB that it had approved the tariff hike.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe had meanwhile instructed the Power & Energy Ministry to ensure uninterrupted power supply after the tariff hike was approved.

A statement from the president’s office said Wickremesinghe had also asked the ministry to offer concessions to low-income families and also provide solar rooftop systems for places of religious worship and government educational institutes.

The president’s announcement was followed by a press briefing by Minister Wijesekara, who said the government was compelled to take the “difficult decision” of increasing utility rates. He insisted that the tariff hike was not intended to cover longstanding losses of the CEB but was only implemented to manage ongoing costs.

State banks will supply the funds needed for the purchase of fuel, naphtha and coal for power generation, he added.

This is the second electricity tariff hike since Wijesekara took over as Power & Energy Minister, which was delayed several times amid opposition and protests from various quarters. (Colombo/Feb16/2023)

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