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Sri Lanka: Electricity Bill Passed

(Mar. 10, 2009) A new bill on electrical power was passed by the Sri Lankan Parliament on March 3, 2009. The vote was 109 to 40, amid controversy over its provisions. Unions representing workers at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) opposed the bill and held a protest against it. They and the Marxist political party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna oppose the bill because they feel it is a move toward privatizing electrical power in the country. The CEB has experienced huge financial losses and faced criticism of the service it provides to the public; some have therefore argued that privatization may be necessary. (Controversial Electricity Bill Passed in Sri Lanka Parliament, COLOMBO PAGE, Mar. 3, 2009, available at

The bill transfers responsibility for licensing power stations from the CEB to the Public Utilities Commission. According to the President of the Sri Lanka Electricity Employees Union, Ranjan Jayalal, while the bill does not authorize privatization, its provisions may lead to that situation. Jayalal said that “what happens from the bill is [the] Electricity Board would lose all its opportunities to the private sector.” (Electricity Bill Is to Strengthen 13th Amendment – Ranjan Jayalal, LANKA TRUTH, Feb. 26, 2009, available at