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Sri Lanka: Plan to Amend Electricity Act

(Apr. 1, 2013) The major opposition party in Sri Lanka has criticized what it views as a flawed attempt by the government to amend the country’s Electricity Act. (Sri Lanka Electricity Act, No. 20 of 2009, GAZETTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA (Apr. 8, 2009); Proposed Amendment to Electricity Act Will Leave Room for Corruption, Sri Lanka Oppostion Warns, COLOMBO PAGE (Mar. 14, 2013).)

According to the United National Party (UNP), the planned amendment will change procedures for government procurement in such a way that corrupt practices may more easily occur. Dr. Harsha de Silva, an economist and a member of Parliament from the UNP, noted that the proposal as it amends section 43 of the Act would eliminate the competitive tender procedure applicable to bids from foreign countries. In addition, he has raised the issue of the lack of transparency in the potential new procedure. (Proposed Amendment to Electricity Act Will Leave Room for Corruption, Sri Lanka Oppostion Warns, supra.)

Section 43 specifies that when a new electricity generating plant is planned or an existing plant is expanded, a call for tenders must be issued. Then the business licensed to run the plant should, with the consent of the relevant government commission, select the applicant offering to do the work for the lower cost, from among applications that are technically acceptable. (Sri Lanka Electricity Act, sec. 43, paras. 2-3.)

According to the Parliamentary Calendar, the proposal was discussed by the Consultative Committee on Power and Energy on March 19. (Parliament Calendar, The Parliament of Sri Lanka website (last visited Mar. 25, 2013).)