ECONOMYNEXT – A decision to award a 300 megawatt (MW) power plant to the first and second bidder in a single tender for an independent power producer was bipartisan, Power Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.
Sri Lanka called for bids for a dual fuel 300M plant in 2016 but the tender had been mired in controversy and corruption allegations.
A consortium indentified as Windforce Rec Gen was finally awarded the deal following an appeal by LTL group which is part owned by state-run Ceylon Electricity Board insisted that it was cheaper.
However officials said the firm sought a government guarantee for finance and their quote did not account for some taxes.
Karunanayake said the original decision to award plants to both firms had been made when ex-Power Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya was in office during a so-called 52-day period when the leader of Karunayake’s United National Party was sacked as Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena.
"Why was there no backbone to say this," Karunayake questioned in parliament referring to Siyambalapitiya.
"I am saying it was a good thing he did. When I say from a different party, why should he be scared?"
The 300MW diesel plant was originally planned as stop gap capacity until a 500MW coal plant came online in two stages from around 2021.
But President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe cancelled the coal plant, requiring another 200MW plant to be come on stream around the time.
Due to the delay in the first 300MW plant Sri Lanka is now buying emergency power.
The cancellation of the coal plant, and the delay in the award of the stop gap plant was during the time Siyambalapitiya was power minister. (Colombo/Apr09/2019)