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 Post subject: JVP led unions refuse Cabinet paper on Electricity Board
 Post Posted: Fri May 06, 2005 9:55 pm 
JVP led unions refuse Cabinet paper on Electricity Board
Threaten with a genearl strike next week


6 May 2005 17:37 hours
@ -LBO Newsdesk

Largely JVP led unions refuse to consider an alternate reform model for the loss making Electricity Board, rejecting the new Cabinet paper that was passed on Wednesday.

The now controversial Cabinet paper says the government will alter the reform model to keep the CEB in state hands and change the Electricity Reform Act.

The government is damned though if it does or does not. The new move meant to appease unions saw most go on strike outside Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) headquarters on Friday.

“We have decided to go on a token strike from 2.00 pm on Friday until 8.00 am on Saturday. We will then meet on Monday to decide what action to take,” Chief Secretary for the Lanka Electricity Workers Union, Ranjith Jayalal said.

“We are objecting to the fact that the new Cabinet paper also tries to turn the CEB into companies,” Jayalal said.

The ministerial paper on electricity and CEB reforms has been postponed pending further information, the Cabinet Memorandum said, but adds that there will be no privatisation of state enterprises.

The earlier paper tried to break up the CEB into independent units of generation, distribution and transmission, with the option of privatising them later.

Instead, the government plans to set up a single state owned company under the Companies Act, which will own shares in the generation, distribution and transmission companies to be set up under the Electricity Reform Act.

The Electricity Reform Act is to also be amended, the memo said, to allow this new set up of state held companies being formed.

Power and Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha said on Wednesday that the Act will also be amended so that a two thirds Parliamentary majority is needed to ever sell the shares in the companies.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – a coalition partner in the ruling Alliance government have been threatening to pull out of the Alliance if reforms in the CEB and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation go ahead.

Three JVP ministers walked out of the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, in protest at the Cabinet paper that was taken up, accusing the government of trying to rush reforms through.

A US$ 60 mn or Rs. 6 bn loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) is tied to reforms and is in the balance.

Donors have given the government an extension on the loan till the end of June, but have warned that only one extension is usually entertained.

Meanwhile, the CEB Engineers Union was meeting Friday evening to decide if they would join the strike. The union has been pushing for a moderate reform plan of Strategic Business Units under a state owned company.

-LBO Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlk.com

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