Minister seeks cabinet intervention as consumer group charges CEB over salary hike

Jun 25, 2019 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Power Minister is reportedly to present a cabinet paper to obtain the approval of the cabinet to rectify the errors in relation to the creation of a Unified Engineering Service and related salary scales in the state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board.

The move came after the Appeal Court on 02 April 2019, quashed a circular (2014/GM/46/Pers) dated 27 November 2014 that created a category known as “Unified Engineering Service” for the engineers of CEB.

The Court ruled that the due procedure has outrageously been violated by the CEB when they arbitrarily created “Unified Engineering Service” and a special salary scale known as “E Salary Scale” for engineers.

The court held that a board recommendation alone is not enough for a salary increase, the approval of the Minister of Power, Minister of Finance, and also the Cabinet of Ministers is necessary.

Kelum Amarasinghe, Convener of the Association for Consumer Rights, a consumer rights group, releasing a statement yesterday charged that the CEB through a cabinet paper is trying to re-enforce a salary system which was banned by the courts.

The relevant cabinet paper, however, outlines that it seeks to resolve the issues in respect of the payment of salaries of the CEB employees in compliance with the judgment.

The paper seeks the cabinet approval to continue the payment of salaries based on the salary scales that were in place in the month of March 2019 to maintain the status quo, until the judgment can be fully complied with.

Amarasinghe, however, argues that it should be the salary scale of 2014 which was prior to the said circular that should be applied temporary until a new salary system is approved.

He says due to the implementation of this circular, the salaries of the engineers alone were increased from 40 to 120 percent incurring an additional 6 billion rupees for tariff payers in Sri Lanka for the period 2015 to 2019.

After the judgment, nonetheless, only 85 percent of the individual salary has been paid by the CEB to the employees of the Unified Engineering Service as a “temporary allowance” on recoverable basis for the month of April and May 2019.

The cabinet paper says even this temporary allowance has given rise to many legal issues in relation to recruitment, promotions, payment of pensions, loans, payment of overtime and other allowances.

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