Employees of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) have reportedly received a total of Rs.3,670 million as various allowances in the year 2020 and 2021.
The matter had been taken up during yesterday’s (21) meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
‘Ridiculous’ allowance categories
Attention has been drawn to the decision to pay Rs.2,134.9 as allowances in the year 2021 and Rs. 1,544.4 million in the year 2020.
COPE Chairman – Prof. Charitha Herath has noted that there should be accountability for the funds as it is public money.
He also pointed out that some of the categories used for the payment of allowances were ridiculous. For example, in addition to ‘reading the meter’, there is also an allowance for ‘reading the meter correctly’, he added.
Expenditure exceeds revenue
He also pointed out that the annual expenditure of the Ceylon Electricity Board exceeds the revenue expected by the Inland Revenue Department through all taxes.
Further, the decision taken by the Cabinet in December 2007 to revise the salaries and when the collective agreement was reached in May 2015, it was decided to shift the liability for PAYE and Advanced Personal Income Tax (APIT) to the employees but from 2010 onwards. It was also revealed that the Ceylon Electricity Board had paid Rs. 4.8 billion (PAYE / APIT) in taxes from its fund without deducting the salaries of the employees till 2020. Officials who were present pointed out that the payment of this tax has been stopped by now.
Commenting on this, the COPE Chairman pointed out that this is a big issue in the country. He also pointed out that this shows that in the end this money was paid from the money of the people of the country.
Document for salary hike, not legal?
Also, based on the draft collective agreement, the Ceylon Electricity Board had increased the salaries of employees by 25% in the year 2021. However, it was revealed that this was not a legal document as it was an unfinished draft agreement as the relevant parties, employers and unions had not signed the draft. Accordingly, the adverse impact on the Board due to this unauthorized payment was approximately Rs. 9.6 billion, the COPE explained. The COPE chairman pointed out that when looking at this, the institution appears to be non-state-owned.
What happened to Seethawaka Hydro project?
Further, according to the 2018-2034 long term power generation plan, the Seethawaka River Hydro Power Project should have been implemented by 2022. Accordingly, discussions were held regarding the suspension of the project at a cost of Rs. 301.19 million at the end of 2020.
The Members of Parliament stated that it seems like the feasibility study at a cost of Rs. 301.19 million has been carried out and that the project has been dropped halfway, indicating that it is not up to the appropriate feasibility level. Therefore, it was recommended that a full report be submitted to the COPE.