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CEB not paying interest for consumers’ security deposits – Consumer rights advocate

By Imesh Ranasinghe

Convener of the Movement for Consumer Rights Kelum Amarasinghe speaking at the press conference | RepublicNext

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is not paying interest for security deposits consumers make when they sign up for the service, the Movement for Consumer Rights said.

Convenor of the Movement Kelum Amarasinghe told journalists today (25) that Section 28 of the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009 clearly states that the CEB should pay the interest to the consumers at regular intervals.

States the Act: “Where any sum of money is provided to a distribution licensee by way of security in pursuance of this section, the licensee shall pay interest on such sum of money at such rate as may from time to time be fixed by the licensee with the approval of the commission, for the period in which it remains in the hands of the licensee.”

Amarasinghe accused CEB engineers and some advisors to the CEB of trying to amend this section of the Act through the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Energy so that the CEB could get their hands on this money.

“We ask the Cabinet and the electricity mafia to keep their hands off this money. If not, we are ready to take legal action against them,” he said.

Of the 6.2 million electricity consumers, Amarasinghe went on to say, only 50 per cent are even aware of this deposit and that the rest think it as an initial payment paid for getting the electricity supply.

Electricity consumers can lodge a complaint with the nearest police station against the CEB seeking compensation when electronic devices are damaged due to voltage surges on the grid, he noted, adding that consumers can also complain when there is an unannounced power cut in their respective areas.

The regulator, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), meanwhile told RepublicNext that the CEB needs its approval on the annual interest to be paid to consumers.

“But they haven’t paid this interest until now,” PUCSL Spokesman Jayanath Herath said.

Such regulation was imposed under one of the sections in the Electricity Act, said Herath, and in the event of equipment damage due to a difference in voltage supply, consumers can complain to the CEB. Once a formal complaint is received, he said, the CEB carries out an assessment and valuation on the damages and, if it is established that the damaged was indeed due to a voltage difference, the consumer is compensated.

Herath said there is no need to lodge a complaint with the police. “If the CEB fails to pay the compensation, the consumer can make a complaint to the PUCSL after which we will intervene and take action against them,” he said.

This regulation was imposed to ensure the quality of the electricity supply and reduce such damage, he added.