Proposal on lubricant levy an attempt to ‘paralyse’ PUCSL’s independence – Chairman

The Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Janaka Ratnayake has accused the Ministry of Power and Energy of attempting to paralyse the independency of the commission by way of its proposal to remove the lubricant levy from the PUCSL.

Issuing a statement in this regard, the PUCSL chairman noted that the Ministry has proposed to remove the lubricant levy from the PUCSL, the shadow regulator of lubricant market “without providing a proper justification, but to parallelize the independency of the Commission.”
He said the PUCSL has been regulating the lubricant market for 17 years from year 2006. Commenting on the matter, Ratnayake raised concerns that removing the lubricant levy from PUCSL could have serious negative consequences, potentially putting the safety and well-being of consumers at risk.

He noted that it is important for regulators to have the required funds and resourced to carry out their respective functions effectively, so as to ensure that their products are safe and reliable.

“As the PUCSL is funded through a levy to regulate the lubricant market and when the levy is removed, it could lead to the regulator being unable to fulfill its functions effectively and to be dependent on the state funds and political influence. Without independent funds, the regulator may not be able to carry out its mandate of ensuring sustainability within the lubricant industry. This could result in several dangers, including domination of substandard and unauthorized lubricant products in the market, leading to vehicle and manufacturing equipment failures, accidents, and other negative outcomes. Adulteration of lubricant has become a major concern of the lubricant market and PUCSL have made impressive progress in eradicating such substandard and unauthorized lubricant products, paving the pathway for better qualified lubricant products, which will ultimately benefit the consumers,” Rathnayake said in this regard.

Thus, the PUCSL Chairman stated that paralysing an independent regulator such as PUCSL for political gains would not only affect the existing market, but would also adversely affect the future of the lubricant market, adding that “cutting off the wings” of an independent utility would also give out the wrong message to the international community.