By Amila Muthukutti –
Citizens in this country have had to experience considerable hours of power cuts for past few weeks, mainly due to the lack of long-term vision and policy implementation in national level. We, as a developing country, heavily depend on petroleum and electricity as energy sources, as we don’t have alternative energy sources developed to be replaced with traditional sources. This is why; the entire economy is shocked, when the country runs at a shortage of electricity or at a fuel price hike. Be it a household, a factory or self-employments, all of them can’t do without energy. Therefore, it is needless to note that continuously cutting the electricity causes a huge economic cost by directly hampering the economic growth as well.
Even though it is true that majority of industries established in the country are labor intensive, they are powered by electricity. Consequently, even a boutique aside the road can’t run without electricity. It is under such a circumstance that the current regime has gone for cutting electricity, putting forward excuses that they don’t have options more than this. People face a great inconvenience, once they are unable to continue even their day-to-day activities such as cooking, studies and entertainment so and so forth. All these things indirectly slows down the production process. Moreover, even if power generators are being used at a huge cost by large firms in order to mitigate the impact, small and medium scale entrepreneurs don’t have such a strong financial position for hiring generators for a short period. Hence, people who are engaged in self-employments like running a tailor shop, saloon, restaurant and garage etc, have become victims of the power cut. Although many of these people meet their daily expenses by the earnings from these small businesses, they don’t have options other than closing their shops. The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) recently warned that disruptions would have adverse effects on vital exports sectors. Even though they use generators, delays in the supply chain can’t be avoided. On the other hand, they have to pay taxes and settle other obligations on time.
Image of the economy
Sri Lanka is a country still struggling for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), despite the fact that the country has lost almost all the factors that are capable of persuading foreign investors. In my opinion, Sri Lanka is a country that faces repeated crises such as political crisis, foreign exchange crisis and now power crisis resulting in an economic crisis. No investor is ready to put their money at risk by investing in a country like ours. They don’t want to see their employees working five hours per day out of eight hours, because of power cuts. In other words, image of the economy badly has been tarnished for past few years.
Unfortunately, whatever it is, it gets politicized in Sri Lanka. Therefore, there can’t be an exception for the power cut as well. We can see the opposition blaming the government for not taking right measures to curb the power crisis. Whenever the government fails, the opposition doesn’t hesitate to capitalize on it. However, when they come into power, they also do the same. That is why, Sri Lanka has been a developing country for decades. My suggestion is to see the power cut as a national failure rather than a political failure backed by short-sighted politicians. Every government that ruled this country ought to be responsible for not resolving the power crisis that has been increasing day by day.
Solutions put forward in this regard can be short-term as well as long-term. It is reported that Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) signed a power purchase agreement with one independent power producer to the grid. There are few private players in energy industry. They must be supported and facilitated by the government, so that they can increase their capacity. A lot of private energy firms have gone for alternative energy sources instead of being solely dependent on hydropower. It is true that the demand for energy goes up day by day with exponentially increasing population. Steps have to be taken to generate adequate power so as to meet the growing demand. The country is in a dire need of another power plant that has to be set up with high level of transparency.
In conclusion, power cut has put the economy into a dark era where everyone has to suffer. Production process is severely affected. A country in darkness can’t move forward in any way. Disrupted production leads to less revenue, less investment and slow job creation.