Dimensions

Dimensions

Blending ,Ancient and Modern
to offer the very best of Energy Healing

Having celebrated the opening of her first showroom at No. 555/2/B/1 Kaduwela Road, Thalangama North, Battaramulla, Harshanie Hewamadduma Ritigahapola, the founder of Dimensions, was delighted to spare a few minutes from her busy schedule to share the story of Dimensions.

When asked how and why Dimensions came to be, Ritigahapola replied, “In the beginning, Energy Healing was simply a personal interest of mine, but as I began to look deeper into the art, it dawned on me, how little people actually know about the concept of Energy and its benefits. My first step was to buy the Biopulsar Reflexograph System. I began doing readings for my family and friends and eventually acquired a small working space where I could use the Biopulsar Reflexograph System to do Energy Readings for my clients. I began doing Reiki Therapy and using Crystals to heal the ailments and problems we came across”. Describing the process of bringing the ancient art of Energy Healing into the 21st century, Ritigahapola explained that modern Energy Healing and Reading have been in Sri Lanka for about 6-8 years. However, she realised that it was a mere niche minority that knew of, and made use of the art itself. She wanted to bring Energy Healing to a larger audience. According to Ritigahapola, many people in Sri Lanka have merely heard of the term Energy Healing, they don’t have an actual understanding of the art and its benefits. They know about Universal Energy in general but not about Energy Healing and Reading. Reiki Therapy entails the use of Universal Energy to heal via amplifying the person’s own energy. Thus they are healed by their own energy. This has been happening for thousands of years.
“The Biopulsar Reflexograph System has been produced by Auramed, a German company that has been conducting research studies on Energy for almost twenty years. This machine is the most advanced of its kind. The inventors have combined Energy Reading with Chinese Reflexology, Indian Ayurveda, and Ying and Yang Energy. Thus the Biopulsar Reflexograph System is the epitome of the blend of ancient and modern. Then there’s Reiki Therapy, which has been around for almost fifty years. Along with Reiki Therapy there are other techniques of Energy Healing such as Pranic Healing, Angels Reiki Healing etc. Dimensions also offers Colour Therapy, which is used to stimulate the reflexes of a problematic organ zone”, stated Ritigahapola when questioned about how Dimensions continues to blend the ancient and modern to better serve its clients.

 

Body energy

Ritigahapola provided a detailed explanation of the Biopulsar Reflexograph System and its operations. According to her, one of the main functions of the Biopulsar Reflexograph System is to provide a measurement of the Energy of all the body’s organs via skin resistance. The measuring is very precise and not harmful in any way. The grafts correspond to the pulse diagnosis and the results are based on the verification of a series of colours. The grafts show the entire network of the body in detail. The Biopulsar Reflexograph System is made up of a number of other software applications for various procedures including treatments, analysis, there is even software suitable for gyms and spas. These let the professionals at gyms and spas know which muscles need the most attention.
Speaking on what sets Dimensions apart from other businesses that specialise in energy healing, the company’s founder stated, “The aura-reading machines at Dimensions provide a thorough and precise reading unlike many other machines found in Sri Lanka, which measure a limited number of the body’s organs. At Dimensions, the Biopulsar Reflexograph System provides a reading of a total of forty-three organ zones. At Dimensions we try to teach people about Energy, it’s not just about Aura-Reading and selling bracelets and crystals. We aim to teach people about Energy and its benefits, as it is by improving their Energy levels that they can improve themselves. We also encourage people to be positive, as a positive attitude can make all the difference in the world. At Dimensions we also promote the Law of Attraction, which is linked to Energy Healing and personal growth. We take much care of our crystals from the very beginning. We buy our crystals from very reliable sources and we confirm the quality via a qualified gemmologist. We continuously charge them by using different techniques so that our clients get the best out of our crystals to manifest anything they desire and for positivity. Our crystals are kept in a sound room to amplify the energies of the crystals with sound vibration before we showcase it in our showroom”.

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Transport  history  in the making       LRT project launched in Colombo

Transport history in the making LRT project launched in Colombo

History was in the making just a few days ago at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, when the Colombo Light Rail project was ceremonially launched. The Light Rail Transit – widely known as LRT – is a project funded by Japan, to the tune of USD 2.2 billion. The project is a collaborative effort between the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry and the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).

The transit will connect Malabe and Colombo Fort with a modern light train service. It links strategically and commercially important locations such as Borella and Battaramulla. The proposed transit follows the centrelines of the present road network through 16 train stations and one depot area. The depot, which will be erected in West Malabe, serves the purpose of maintenance as being well as the train yard.

The LRT will be Sri Lanka’s long-sought strategic and structural solution to shift the country from its current middle-income status to an upper-middle income level. This is a basic initiative launched by the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry to develop the major aspects of transportation.

The Megapolis and Western Development Ministry was introduced to the country’s ruling machinery, as the incumbent government came to power in 2015. The Ministry is tasked with the responsibility of providing a master plan to solve the problem of traffic congestion in the Colombo Metropolitan area by introducing an alternative transport system.

Sri Lanka, a country in which more than 90 % of the population rely on the road network, badly needs an alternative transport system. The past few years witnessed the rapid growth of numbers of motor cars, buses and motorcycles on the road. At least one million people enter Colombo on a daily basis. The usual travel speed remains at 20 km/h during the peak hours. At times, the figure shrinks down to the 10 km/h level.

For instance, a commuter who wishes to reach Battaramulla from Colombo Fort will be able to do so within 20 minutes during the off-peak hours. Yet, this is beyond imagination during peak hours, when the duration of the trip will be at least 40 minutes. As both Colombo Fort and Battaramulla are equally important, owing to the administratively and commercially important buildings located in between, such a delay will have a hazardous effect on the country’s overall economic structure.

This ultimately leads to grave concern about the country’s transportation. The Light Rail Transit, therefore, will be a welcome move.
A railway solution comes in even handier, owing to its congestion-free movement.
The intention of introducing the Light Rail Transit is clear. The transit provides the commuters with a comfortable, safe and reliable mode of public transportation. The proposed LRT route connects crucial stops, such as Colombo Fort, Town Hall, National Hospital, Borella, Rajagiriya, Battaramulla and Malabe. This route provides access to business centres, schools, hospitals and important government offices such as the Department for Registration of Persons and Department of Immigration and Emigration, as well as to transport nodes connected to other important places.

And the best news is yet to be heard. The travel time between Malabe and Fort will be around half an hour. This duration may be relied upon, owing to the traffic-free corridor. The ease of the commute is another facility that the urban citizens can now look forward to. Concurrently, the traffic situation along the LRT route will also change. Private vehicle users will be encouraged to take up this mode of transportation – which will ultimately reduce the congestion. A smaller quantum of private vehicle users means the Western Megapolis will have a city with less air pollution and traffic congestion.

LRT Benefits
1. Eases traffic congestion in Colombo and its surrounding areas
2. Reduces travel time of passengers and commuters.
3. Improves connectivity of strategic locations and transport hubs.
4. Increases accessibility of places along the route
5. Provides a comfortable, reliable and safe alternative mode of public transportation.
6. Enhances air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

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Colombo  Tech City

Colombo Tech City

Colombo Tech City is a project that the government of Sri Lanka has formulated for the development of the country, with particular emphasis on the area of scientific and technological innovation. It is the government’s major concept for developing the “Western Megapolis”, its ongoing project to convert Colombo and its environs into a multi-million population conurbation – whereby it hopes to haul the rest of the country into the 21st century.Tech cities exist elsewhere, points out Rahula Senanayake, Deputy Director (Promotion) at the Tech City project, in China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. “Even in India they have 100 tech cities, whereas we have only one.”

Policy framework

However, the going is slow. The project is a many-faceted one, requiring the participation of multiple parties, and a slew of preliminaries for it to get off the ground.
In the first place, there is the need for a policy to be hammered out for the development of this type of hypothesized city.

This is complicated by the division of responsibility between different ministries, departments and authorities. Senanayake says that the policy framework for the Colombo Tech City is in the process of formulation but it is delayed, “because in Sri Lanka it is connected to different ministries.”
“We are under the Megapolis Ministry,” he elaborates. “This is a ministry where some of the identified projects to be implemented are taken forward, whereas other ministries have their focus on the subject area. So, automatically science, technology and innovation goes directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

But the project itself continues with our ministry. So some policy matters, need to be discussed, we should not allow overlap. It is a problematic question.”
Another issue, which causes considerable delay, is procurement of land for locating the Tech City projects.
“You especially need land for the development of this project,” Senanayake explains. “Land area is a question at the moment, because many of lands on which we have planned on developing Tech City projects, belong to private stakeholders, it is private property, so the government needs to acquire these lands.”
The Land Acquisition Act gives the Urban Development Authority (UDA) the power to carry out the process of acquiring suitable lands. However, the procedure is time-consuming.

Universities

When the Colombo Tech City proposal first emerged, the Sri Lankan university system was not included in the concept. However, about six year ago, the idea of integrating university campuses came up. Accordingly, the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development included this notion, of universities connected to the Tech City Development Project, in the master plan.

“We have allocated a certain acreage, 15 or 20 acres,” says Senanayake, “for the Colombo, Sri Jayawardana Pura, and Moratuwa universities, so that they are directly connected. Now all the infrastructure facilities are being done. Other infrastructure services such as electricity, water and road networks are also now underway.”
Consequently, academia, and beyond, have linkages to Tech City, so that when a university comes up with research and development (R&D) concepts, they can be commercialised, associating with the process not only the younger generation, but also higher scholars at the universities – including the process of innovation and innovation within the entire Tech City programme.

It is an evolving programme. The new Technology Facility of the Sri Jayawardana Pura university took the first steps, and now Colombo and Moratuwa universities have developed their faculties dealing with research and innovations along the same lines.

Ecosystem

Research and development is not simply the purview of academia, however. For it to be vibrant, in needs to tie in with functioning areas of industry and services.
“We are also expecting research in the health care field. There are thousands of research institutes, whom we are inviting here. However, just a research institute on its own cannot survive, so we discussed the matter and decided on research based on a hospital. Patients using the hospital could be charged for the medical services they receive.

We think private parties would find this concept attractive.In order to attract vibrant start-ups, the business incubation system will be adopted – to facilitate small and medium enterprise development and innovation from among the younger generation. Senanayake expects this will enable knowledge acquisition and innovative product development.

“We are aware of other countries, who are very successfully doing this, so we are bringing academia into close proximity and making the required facilities available. Apart from the business incubation centre, we will, provide the commercialisation, linkages, and prototype production. We will provide the physical building for the incubation centre.”

Although there are several small business incubators in Colombo, this one will be larger. Tech City invites the small incubators to link up with them, so that they could also benefit. The business incubation centre will be linked to government agencies, but also to the private sector – “we realise that government institutions cannot do anything unless linked to the private sector,” adds Senanayake.

“So this would be Mahenwatte, in Homagama Tech City ” he explains. “The whole area will be one ecosystem, where your research institutions labs and academia universities and the students and the other SME support services, with a shared resource pool. That is what have made successes of Silicon Valley and other world famous tech cities.”

Iconic Building

The Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology, the NSBM Green University, the military research unit and Standards Institution are up and running at the Homagama Tech City. Apart from that, John Keells and several other private institutions are connecting up. ICT-related companies have requested facilities such as supermarkets, restaurants and coffee shops in the vicinity, to serve their staff.

“We have requested famous suppliers to go and see and open up even temporary facilities, we can provide accommodation. We are planning to have an iconic building, called the ‘Iconic Building’. It will be facilitating all shopping, restaurants, car park and leisure areas, and everything else required. Even housing will also be provided in that complex.” Senanayake stresses that, for the private sector to invest, they need profit margins, to achieve which they must be able to go to profitable or bankable projects, otherwise there would be no point their investing. “That is why we are carefully selecting some projects. Private sector investors, whether local parties or foreign, they need to get a return, so they need carefully designed projects, not on such the iconic building, If it is merely a symbol, it would not be bankable. In order to make it bankable, we added many components inside the building.

The Iconic Building is envisaged to contain vehicle parking, government or non-governmental office area, a shopping mall, and housing, on all of which of money can be made. The multi-faceted facilities are linked to the Iconic building to make it an economically feasible, bankable project.

“The staff of Jayawardana Pura, Colombo and Peradeniya universities may make new appointments to these faculties, at least 1,000. They need facilities. So we have an immediate need for 1,000 housing units.”
Scholars, workers other staff members, who settle with their families, need education for their children. Since ending their children all the way to Colombo is difficult, they need educational facilities in the area. A very good government school, Mahinda Rajapaksa College, is located there. “However, some people might prefer a private educational institution. We have identified this need.

We have identified the land, and we need investment to run a private school, even up to university level.”
The Tech City master plan calls for providing employment to150,000 people. At the first stage, Universities are expected to provide over 2,500 new jobs in the three faculties they will set up at Mahenwatte. Another 2,500 job opportunities are envisaged in the next four years, making a total of about 5,000 new jobs, in the near future.

Yasas Nainanayake

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Bankers to the Nation, Bank of Ceylon Celebrates its 80th Anniversary

Bankers to the Nation, Bank of Ceylon Celebrates its 80th Anniversary

Sri Lanka’s No.1 bank, the Bank of Ceylon is geared to celebrate its eight decades of dominance in the banking industry on 1st August 2019. With the heritage that explicitly showcases its commitment to the Nation, the Bank of Ceylon is considered to be among the top most important contributors towards the economic and social development of the country. The saga of the Bank of Ceylon begins in the early 1900’s, when a lack of finance deprived many Ceylonese businesses of the ability to make use of the opportunities that were available at that time. It was then that the Member of the State Council of Ceylon for Kandy, Hon. George E. De. Silva moved a motion to look into the situation with regard to the ordinary Ceylonese, who were deprived of financial assistance to get involved with businesses, unlike a few elite Ceylonese businessmen and foreigners, that led the Governor of Ceylon to appoint a commission to look into this situation. Finally, the Bank of Ceylon Ordinance was enacted in 1939 and the Bank was declared open on 1st August 1939 at 41, Bristol Street in Colombo Fort, by the Governor, Sir Andrew Caldecott. Since then, for eight decades, the country’s banking giant has delivered an unparalleled service to Sri Lankans at all levels, and an unmatched contribution to the economy. The Bank of Ceylon grew rapidly opening branches in every major city within a decade, followed by a branch in London. By the mid-1950s it was a force to be reckoned with and, with the passing of each decade, it has continued to grow in both size and influence, subsequently becoming a tool for effecting economic growth on an even broader scale. However, growth to this size, the complete range of products and services it offers and the role it plays should not come as a surprise. That is because the origins of Bank of Ceylon are steeped in history. Its formation is an important event in the history of commerce and of the Sri Lankan economy.

Leveraging on the strength gathered over eight decades, Bank of Ceylon has continued to dominate the Sri Lankan banking landscape at many different levels. It is the Bank that is involved in uplifting every socio-economic stratum in Sri Lanka, by comprehensively penetrating into the everyday life of Sri Lankans as a household brand. Currently BOC is a major contributor to economic and social development by fostering good Governance and ensuring banking services are made available to every socio-economic group in the country.

“We are a Bank that stayed together with the Sri Lankan community at all times. By understanding the true needs which emerge from within our community, our efforts have always been to address those by financial assistance given through a proper mechanism” began the Chairman Bank of Ceylon, President’s Counsel Mr. Ronald C. Perera.

Challenging path

“The path the bank had to take has always been a challenging one, but the resilience of the Bank and its capacity to overcome these formidable challenges have been demonstrated along its eight decades. It has developed its market leadership by confronting market volatility, channelling and aligning resources to ensure business growth and achieving transformation through technology. As we step into the 80th Anniversary, I have to mention that we have realised the goals, we have had in our plan. Now our focus is towards the Bank’s 100th Anniversary, which will come in the year 2039. Being the Bank for the future youth, we look forward to build more Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, encouraging youth to actively contribute towards economic growth and become future business leaders. The Bank will also extend its international network to emerging markets, further establishing its brand as an International Sri Lankan Bank” said he.

Owning a balance sheet that is unparalleled in the industry, with three components carrying over a Trillion of rupees each: Assets over Rs.2 Trillion, Deposits over Rs.1.5 Trillion, Advances and Lending over Rs. 1.8 Trillion; BOC boasts of being the wealthiest single business entity in Sri Lanka. This leading Sri Lankan banking giant has spread its wings across the island with a sophisticated inter-connected digital network, currently inclusive of 636 branches, 10 mobile branches, 15 SME centres and also 1110 ATMs/ CDMs and CRMs that are 24×7 operative as physical customer touch points, building up a total of 1769, enabling customers to transact at their convenience. It has already marked its overseas presence in London, Chennai, Male, Hulu-Male and Seychelles, and envisions extending its network further. The Bank currently maintains a foreign correspondent network that consists of over 800 foreign banks and over 100 exchange houses, that has enabled the brand “BOC” to reach anywhere in the world.

World-class technology

Integrating world-class technologies to provide the best-in-class banking service that is suited for the next generation customer, the Bank has brought banking to the finger tips of the customer. The digital transformation of BOC began as early as the early part of 2004, when it upgraded its branch operating network with the latest ICBS system that interconnected the entire branch banking operation into a centralized system, significantly cutting down the operation time and cost. It also marked the beginning of “paperless” operations as most of the procedures and processes were compacted reducing paper usage. The DMS system that came recently is set to completely take over the conventional record keeping, allowing the bank to be more customer-centric. Transforming its systems to evolve further, BOC embarked on a comprehensive digital platform re-launching its Online Banking with added features as Smart Online Banking, mobile banking B-App, re-vamped its card centre operations and launched a concept named “BOC Digi”, a self servicing state-of-the-art banking centre that allows customer 24×7 access to essential banking services via digital devices in a spacious, comfortable and modern environment as different from a mere ATM/ CRM outlet.

With the fundamental strength that was built over the years and adapting to the agile nature of the banking industry with new technology, the Bank of Ceylon has continued to dominate as the No.1 Bank in Sri Lanka. BOC’s structure is sustainable in the longer-run which is developed around a profound vision, mission and a set of corporate values. The assurance the Bank has earned throughout these years is validated by all stakeholders especially all Sri Lankans. As for the Future, the Bank aims to confront future challenges by; developing market leadership, confronting market volatility, channelling and aligning resources to ensure business growth and transforming the banking landscape digitally.

“BOC has always been committed to fulfilling stakeholder interests. We are a Bank that has rendered assistance to the socio-economic development goals of the Sri Lankan Government for eight decades. Over the years, from generation to generation, Bank of Ceylon has seen many individuals, small businesses and many companies make very modest starts and with the Bank’s help to grow from the SME class (i.e., Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) to achieve positions of financial stability and holders of substantial market share. Some have eventually developed into conglomerates and large company groups. We consider ourselves lucky to have seen all these success stories. The Bank of Ceylon is also currently one of the significant contributors to the economy. It has been the highest profit earning single business entity in Sri Lanka for several years and closed 2018 achieving a record of Rs.31.9 billion Profit Before Tax (PBT). With that we take pride in telling that our effort towards development of this country has been fruitful. Empowering youth is a special task the Bank of Ceylon always has had on its agenda. BOC will continue to pose itself as the most relevant and sophisticated bank for the “future customer”, assisting them to fulfil their aspirations by adding value to their lives through providing convenience that will be required at that time” Mr. Ronald C. Perera further added, promising a brighter future for the Bank and all its stakeholders.

Inclusion

Assisting and enabling financial inclusion has been one of Bank of Ceylon’s top priorities from the very beginning – actually since it opened its doors in 1939. By now it has made it easier for customers to carry out their banking activities whenever they want to. The nature of these services is one of the reasons why Bank of Ceylon is the No.1 Banking Brand in the country as the banker to over a half of Sri Lanka’s population and carries over Rs 50 billion as brand value.
BOC has inclusively looked into an advanced and progressive agenda to meet social needs. The assistance was heightened during the post-war period where many projects that were started back then have now reached maturity and many of the Micro segment farmers have risen to become successful SME businesses through agriculture-based production in North and East regions. Going beyond the normal business norms, in 2014 the Bank of Ceylon provided financial assistance to rebuild the Northern Railway station which was inoperative for almost thirty years, as a gesture of bridging the Northern Province with rest of the country.

“It is needless to state what we have become, but I wish to tell the nation that it is the strength of our staff throughout this journey that paved the way towards the pinnacle of success. Beginning with a handful of staff back then we have grown to become a large organization with over 8700 employees as at today. Having a like-minded, dedicated and knowledgeable staff is the best resource we have. It has to be emphasized that many of our digitalization projects were pioneered by the Bank’s own staff” stated the General Manager/CEO Mr. Senarath Bandara. “Operationally we have always been down to earth and have always referred back to our customers to understand what is required of us. It was this insight that enabled us to come up with many concepts such as “Branch on wheels”, SmartZones and BOC Digi in the recent past. By enhancing digital eco-systems via a sophisticated banking platform, the bank has incorporated even the most rural sectors of the economy to take part in economic activities efficiently. They too no longer visit the branch to transfer funds or receive funds from the anywhere within the country but instead comfortably rely on online banking or an off-sight ATM/CDM or CRM. Further we assisted the most essential part of social and environmental commitment by incorporating the “Green Banking” concept to our banking practices in a comprehensive manner. Even though we have been practicing some essential parts of Green Banking we opened our minds to the emerging concept and completely embraced these values and communicated such to all our stakeholders in order to get them aboard this movement” he added. The Bank of Ceylon is on a mission to transform its branches into Green Branches and currently has 41 such branches with the capacity of 1.85 MW connected to the national grid.

With the deep empathetic bonds that BOC has formed with the people, its stands to genuinely address their need to out-grow their shells of socio-economic obstacles and become more economically-able to achieve their goals in life. Geared to celebrate the first century of its existence in 2039 the Bank of Ceylon is determined to continue to spearhead the industry combining its visionary direction together with digital technoloAgy to add value to Sri Lankan lives.

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Energy And Enterprise   Ravi Karunanayake

Energy And Enterprise Ravi Karunanayake

Sri Lanka has an installed electrical power capacity of 4,100 MW, whereas its real requirement, to provide security and continuity of supply should be about 5,500 MW, since consumption grows at the rate of 7-8% per year.

The challenge that the country faces is increasing power supply to match demand, while giving more prominence to renewable energy sources, and at the same time keeping costs to a minimum. The person tasked with solving this problem is the Minister of Power, Energy and Business Development.

“After I took office, roughly five months ago,” says Minister Ravi Karunanayake, “my intention was that I would deal with the professionals, as this is a field that is alien to me – of course business, I knew, but certainly the electricity industry is a different world.”

Least-cost

The policy guiding the installation of new electricity generation plant in Sri Lanka is that of “least-cost generation”, that is that the primary consideration should be low cost of electricity. However, the last installation under this policy was in 2011. Subsequent additions have been supplementary, and generally of higher cost.

“The professionals who guided us,” says the minister, “ensured that one of the first concepts to which we should adhere was the least-cost generation. If you look at it on that basis, the lowest cost that exists in Sri Lanka is hydro. The hydro plant … generate at the rate of about LKR 1.34 upto about LKR 3 [per kWh]. The next available is mini-hydro. Then going on to coal, which has been established as one of the cheapest-cost … roughly, it generates from about LKR 11 to 13. The next available choice is LNG [liquid natural gas]. And then you have the renewables that come in-between. And of course, the most expensive is the thermal diesel and furnace oil, which starts from LKR 21 and goes up to almost LKR 50 or 60.”

He says that, given that he cannot increase household rates, he intends to reduce the difference between the selling price and the generating price to a bare minimum. With the advice of the professionals of the Ceylon Electricity Board [CEB], and guided by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka [PUCSL], the cabinet decided that the best mix for electricity generation entailed one third each of coal, LNG [liquid natural gas] and renewables.

“Our intention is that we go for renewables, to increase them by 500% in the short run. Of course, it should be economical for the CEB. At the moment, what is happening is that we are buying it at a fairly high rate – in the range of LKR 22-25 – for renewables and we sell it at LKR 16. So this disparity is what we are trying to reduce. At the moment, owing to world prices of renewables, for solar and wind, reducing 20-25%, we are also making it that the CEB cannot say “no” to renewables. So we are dealing with a feed-in tariff so that you don’t have to go through a one or two year, laborious process; you basically bring an environmentally-friendly project and, within two weeks, you will get your licence to produce power. This is the way we are heading: renewables to be brought in a mix, of one third at the moment and, certainly, by 2050 we want to have 50-60% of our total generation on renewables.”

In the last four years, Sri Lanka did not get more than half a dozen renewable projects, which Karunanayake attributes to “the bureaucratic process, ably assisted by a dysfunctional political system.” However, he says, the new government, now in place. means to ensure that 400-500 MW of power is installed this year and next year, making certain the fulfilment of the sustainable goals for 2020, and that at least 40% of generation is renewable by 2030.

Local enterprise

Karunanayake explains his position on rooftop solar generation, pointing out that owners of rooftops generating excess power, sold it to the CEB at up to LKR 24 per kWh. The CEB sold this to consumers at LKR 16 per kWh, making a loss on the transaction of up to LKR 8. Taking into account the reduction in the cost of installations of up to 30%, he decided to pitch the power buying tariff at an affordable rate for the CEB.

“There was a huge outcry about this,” he says, “…this went to a hell of a fury… There has been no agreement which we stopped or which we varied, which has been signed. They are valid for 20 years. But new ones that come in the future, proactively, we will basically look at a firm rate which is levellised for 20 years, because when you sign an agreement, you can’t say tomorrow ‘I’m sorry the solar rates have come down.’”

He advocates an optimal rate, affordable to the CEB, which also encourages renewables, as well as helping the cause of the local entrepreneur. He believes firmly in a “Sri Lankan approach” to business, which he extends to the field of electricity generation by renewables. Previously, the policy on renewables centred the issuance of saleable permits. There had been a lucrative trade in permits, but very little in the way of construction.

“A lot of foreigners come and say ‘I want to put up solar’ or ‘put up wind’, but my polite response to them, after discussing with the professionals in the CEB, the secretary and all concerned, is ‘bring your finances and tie up with a Sri Lankan.’ I want to ensure that the renewables are, if possible, 100% Sri Lankan. The reason is the sun, the wind and the water, which provide a god-given opportunity.”
He invites entrepreneurs to come forward with proposals for 5 MW or less, promising that every possible application would be be pursued. For wind-power or dendro-power (which he describes as “another wonderful concept”) he promises to pursue proposals of up to 10MW as soon as possible. He does admit that grid connectivity is an issue, but that he would certainly encourage a 100% grid capacity connection, since firm generation is only about 30% of the renewables.

“I think we are going through a sea-change in the power and energy industry, and I call upon every businessman, please come in without cursing the dark, ensure that you come and light that candle, which will help us to come out of this problem. When I say ‘light the candle’, it is to come and search for new opportunities. There are a lot of problems. It is an industry which is dictated to by a few, for the benefit of the few, at the expense of the many, and this is what I want to change. The best transparency process is to ensure that generation is brought as close as possible to the selling price, as well as to ensure that there is a competitive process.”

Looking forward

The minister is optimistic about the future. “I really think you should have a power economy. When I say ‘power economy’, that is you should have a surplus of power which will help people to come in. Now, my vision has been to ensure zero power cuts. To ensure that a household will be connected in 24 hours, and a commercial establishment to be connected in two weeks. When you have a power economy, your security level should today it is 10%, we have increased it to 25%. And a more merchants plant is there, not CEB generated, but the IPP model.”
However, he has reservations about the bureaucracy entrusted with governance of the power sector.

Karunanayake acknowledges that the SAARC region is growing rapidly, and that India plays a pivotal role within it – which he welcomes. He points out that India has been invited to invest in the Sampur coal-fuelled power plant, the LNG-fuelled power plant, and up-coming solar projects, “just to show that they are not only a close neighbour, not only a friendly neighbour, but also a neighbour that can have economic ties” and that during his tenure as trade minister that Sri Lanka developed the free trade agreement with India.

“And we are looking at a SAARC grid connection, which means that we can sell and buy from a SAARC grid, routed through the Indian thing under the sea, which will help us to ensure that we can exchange power generation from here and also to get power generation from SAARC, especially India, and balance the grid.”

Going overseas

He also posits that, while the CEB has a lot of professionalism, it is a massive operation – possibly the largest company in Sri Lanka – “layers of complacency” have set in. He thinks it should become a proactive entity, thinking of the future as yet unborn and set to carve out a niche in meeting a hitherto unserved market need.

“We need to take our professionalism overseas. I must compliment, while being in the industry, a company that is under CEB – 63% under CEB, which is LTL [Lanka Transformers Ltd] which has gone overseas. Now if a subsidiary under CEB can go overseas why has the CEB not gone overseas? They have not been encouraged, they have not been led, nor have they been shown the way. My intention is that they go, take the advantage of Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar and seize the foreign opportunities that are there. Within the next 2-3 months I want to see the first export order out of Sri Lanka into the region, and also to have encouragement of CEB investing overseas, which will help us to reduce the generating costs and improve the overall balance sheet. I think as a trademark, CEB has one of the best product services.”

He looks forward to engineers, no longer operating alone in their own compartment, co-operating with accountants, intertwining financial ability and engineering skills, to ensure that the CEB is on the move.
“This is why I say we have a lot of lost opportunities,” he concludes. “It is lack of vision, lack of drive, lack of sense of urgency, and this is where the problem is.”

                                                                                                                                               Vinod Moonesinghe

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