Sri lanka News – Sri Lanka’s Minister of Power & Energy Kanchana Wijesekera has warned a leading Buddhist monk who issued an ultimatum to the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) on electricity tariffs that nonpayment of bills will result in disconnection.
News footage showed aired over the weekend showed that Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, a prominent Buddhist monk and a former legislator who was most recently active in Sri Lanka’s anti-government protests, had organised a silent protest against a recent electricity tariff hike which saw a 555-percent increase in tariffs for places of worship.
“The electricity bill that used to be 58,000 rupees is now 300,000. We turn the lights on here till 10pm for the benefit of the people of this area.
“This hike is not at all affordable to us, so we say we cannot pay and we refuse to pay,” the monk said.
The thero claimed that the losses that the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) were trying to recover were incurred by political crooks.
“We’re not the ones who [looted the country], so why should we pay for the losses caused by thieves? Where is the fairness in that? We will go into a public campaign to not pay these bills. Is that what the government wants?”
The monk demanded that the CEB not “place the burden” on the public to prevent such an eventuality.
Responding to the monk, Minister Wijesekera tweeted on Sunday September 11 that the clergyman falls under the same political category he had referred to.
“Unfortunately, The Ven Thero falls into the same category as the political category as stated. Nonpayment of Electricity bills will result in disconnection (sp).”
Statement made by Former Parliament Member & Former Leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, Ven Omalpe Sobhitha Thero👇🏾
Unfortunately The Ven Thero falls into the same category as the political category as stated below.
Non payment of Electricity bills will result in disconnection. pic.twitter.com/X3AksXKdVu
— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) September 11, 2022
In August, Sri Lanka hiked the electricity tariff by an average of 75 percent, after nine-years.
Despite the tariff hike, lower end users across all categories pay subsidized rates. These subsidies are awarded by charging higher-end consumers at a slightly higher rate.
Tariffs for the religious category were increased by 555 percent. Officials previously said it was hiked to encourage energy conservation in places of worship.
Explainer: Sri Lanka’s electricity tariff hike and how it works