ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Parliament Committee on Public Finance (PFC), will conduct an investigation into the procurement of coal via Dubai based Black Sands Commodities, it head opposition lawmaker Harsha de Silva said, after allegations over irregularities around the tender process.
The investigation was initiated on the request of Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara, who said false allegations leveled against the awarded tender had created questions on the transparency and pricing.
“I hope PFC will expedite the inquiry,” Wijesekara tweeted on Wednesday (07).
Today I officially requested the Chairman of the Public Finance Committee @HarshadeSilvaMP to conduct an inquiry on the procurement of Coal. False allegations leveled against the awarded tender has created questions on transparency & pricing. I hope PFC will expedite the inquiry. pic.twitter.com/w7Rx0sZ8TG
— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) September 7, 2022
De Silva tweeted back and said: “Upon the official request by Minister Kamchana Wijesekera, I have already discussed with the Speaker of the Parliament and Auditor General and will initiate this inquiry immediately”.
He also said he will meet with the Auditor General and the Secretary to Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to instruct an immediate audit of the process on Thursday (08).
Upon the official request by Minister @kanchana_wij I have already discussed w the Hon Speaker @ParliamentLK and Auditor General and will initiate this inquiry immediately. Tomorrow I will meet w AG and the Secretary to MoP&E and instruct an immediate audit of the process. https://t.co/MhBbtTsHKN
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) September 7, 2022
Though Wijesekara said that the tender was awarded to the lowest bidder and that the due procurement process was followed, De Silva had questioned why a company that was not originally shortlisted by the tender committee was awarded a two year coal deal, which is the highest ever deal at record high price.
Wijesekara’s request letter for an investigation said that the Ministry of Power and Energy and the Lanka Coal Company would provide all related documents and information necessary for the probe.
The 4.5 million MT tender is the largest awarded for coal in Sri Lanka to date.
Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission Janaka Ratnayake had said in August that Sri Lanka’s coal supply was only adequate till October and that the country would need 2.5 million MT for the next year.
Wijesekara has denied that any irregularity took place.
Global coal and oil prices are currently at record prices. Sri Lanka’s energy dependence on coal and lack of forex are making it impossible to provide uninterrupted electricity, though high levels of hydropower have made it possible to reduce the daily power cut duration to one hour. (Colombo/Sep07/2022)