Sri Lanka to ask India or China for credit line for solar panel imports: Min

Sri Lanka intends to seek an Indian or Chinese line of credit for the purchase of solar panels as a solution to mitigate the high cost of electricity tariffs, the energy and health minister said on Tuesday. Energy Kanchana Wijesekara amid calls from influential Buddhist clergy to protest rising electricity prices.

We have the problem of currencies, which makes it difficult to pay for imports. One solution we need to think about is having a line of credit from India or China as the panels are imported from them,” Wijesekara told parliament.

In August, Sri Lanka increased electricity tariffs by an average of 75% after nine years.

The government is facing criticism from Buddhist clergy, who say their monthly bills have reached unbearable levels.

Influential Buddhist clergy called on the public not to pay electricity bills in protest.

Wijesekara said there were over 48,000 consumer connections for religious venues.

More than 15,000 of them consumed less than 30 units per month and are therefore not strongly impacted by the price increase.

Wijesekara said that for the rest of the religious sites, which include Buddhist temples, churches, Hindu kovils (temples) and mosques, he advised installing solar panels. He said electricity supply to religious sites had always been subsidized.

He said the rate hike was the first since 2013. State fuels entity Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) was heavily indebted.

The CEB has over Rs 80 billion to pay for fuel and over Rs 46 billion more to pay to national grid renewable energy providers.

The opposition has urged the government to consider providing electricity at preferential rates to religious institutions.

India has been the biggest aid provider this year to its southern neighbour, which is battling its worst economic crisis in more than seven decades and struggling to pay for its imports.

Aid from the Indian government to crisis-hit Sri Lanka has reached nearly $4 billion since January this year.

Sri Lanka had suffered months of massive turmoil during its worst economic crisis, with the government declaring bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honor its international debt.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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