CEB Chairman Ananda Gunasekera revealed that the Board sustains a staggering Rs 40 million loss on a daily basis. `The present Board, during the last one and a half-year period, have been involved in an extremely difficult task of managing an Organisation which makes daily losses around Rs. 40 million. In the circumstances, the Board had to manage the expenses very carefully in the interests of the organisation and the Country, thereby the Unions` demands based on their self interest, which required additional funds, had to be turned down. Naturally such a situation could make the Board unpopular in the eyes of certain trade unions,` he said this week.
He revealed, what he termed as, the deteriorating situation following a spate of electronic and print media reports that he was supportive of the Norochcholai Coal Fired Power Plant.
Excerpts of his statement:
`It should be categorically stated that the Chairman and the Members of the Board are not only fully committed to the establishment of this Plant, but also are taking a keen interest in facilitating timely implementation of this Project. It has been clearly identified that the delay in the implementation of the Coal Power Project, which has been proposed long time implementation of this Project has become the number one priority for the Board.
The Chairman and the Board are fully committed not only to the implementation of the Coal Project, but also to the implementation of the Upper Kotmale Project and the Reform Process Board Members have been actively involved in getting the Upper Kotmale Project to its present status.
While working towards the speedy implementation of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, the Board also has a duty and commitment to ensure in terms of its statutory and legal role that all actions taken are in the best long term interests of the CEB, Government and the Country. The Chairman and the Board in this regard consider as priorities the need to ensure compliance with the best of standards and also ensure transparency.
It needs to be borne in mind that this is the first Coal Fired Power Plant that the CEB will be acquiring. Thus it is of paramount importance that the Technical Specifications and other requirements are to the optimum levels as any lapses in this regard could prove to be extremely expensive and result in Coal Powered plants coming into disrepute and this paving the way for proponents of diesel power to re-emerge negating the initiative taken by the Government to at long last go in for Coal Fired Power Generation.
It is sad to note that some sections within the CEB Engineer`s Union, are trying to misinterpret, highlighting the above aspects as obstructions to the Project. These perceived `obstructions` could be a reference to the Board looking into certain procedural lapses by senior engineers who are also believed to be members of the Engineers` Union.
It is evident that these disgruntled elements are attempting to bring disrepute to the Board by making such allegations. These attempts are possibly made since the Board did not agree to some of the unreasonable demands made by the trade unions. The CEB Engineers` Union has adopted a resolution seeking to have Chairman and the Board removed from office. The reasons given for this drastic demand are vague and without foundation.
Amongst these demands was a request for increase in engineer`s allowances in addition to the salary. These allowances if granted would total to amounts ranging from 20% to 73% of the monthly salary and in the case of one or two as much as 106%. In the present financial predicament of the CEB, the Board could not have agreed to this demand. Further more a recent cabinet decision required any allowances or salary revisions to be referred to The National Administrative Council. This is after a 23% salary increase granted to all CEB employees.
Another allegation levelled against the Board is that it has made payments to Private Power Producers against the interest of the Board and depriving employees of their so called `just` demands such as the above.
It must be emphatically stated that the Board has not made any payments as alleged by the CEB Engineers` Union in fact the Board turned down a request by the Management to extend the contract of an Emergency Power Producer by about 3 weeks, thus saving the Board in excess of Rs. 200 million.`