Sri Lanka to protect Buddhism with low power tariffs

Lanka Buisness Online, 15 Dec, 2010

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka has further cut tariffs to places of worship in proposed new rates for 2010 to protect Buddhism, which was an obligation of the state, power ministry secretary M M Ferdinando said.

Under proposed tariffs for 2011 the lowest tariffs for religious establishments would go down from 2.50 to 2.00 rupees a unit (kiloWatt hour) and above 180 units a month, the rate would come down to 9.50 from 12.50.

"The government has an obligation to protect Buddhism," Ferdinando said.

"The lower tariffs will help small temples in remote regions."

He said not all temples had resources like large temples in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo.

The average cost of generation of a unit of power next year is estimated at 19.14 rupees by the regulator, though a Treasury subsidy for debt service and fuel subsidies paid with taxes collected from the people would push it down to 14.95 rupees a unit.

The so-called 'religious' category tariffs are available to places of worship of all Sri Lankan citizens, not just Buddhist temples.

Under the proposed new tariffs, customers classified as 'general purpose' would be charged 19.50 rupees a unit and hotels 19.50 rupees.

Households using above 90 units would be charged rates ranging from 23.50 rupees to an exorbitant 45.50 rupees.

All such customers may be able to gain high levels of merit, or have their path to heaven eased by cross subsidy to religious establishments.

Others such as industry, would get subsidized power at 11.50 rupees, government offices would get power as low as 14.50 and 13.30 rupees a unit (lower than current tariffs) may not be able to gain merit by cross subsidy.