CPC chief alleges Mafia interference
CEYPETCO has not floated a spot tender since his management took over, its Chairman Dhammika Ranatunga said. It tried to procure an emergency petrol consignment via a spot tender during the fuel crisis but a shipment was not available. The institution would not need to go for spot tenders in future and could manage with term contracts, he said.
A term contract is “A written agreement which explicitly states a fixed duration that the contract will be in effect. The signing parties are obligated to adhere to the terms and conditions within the contract until the expiration, or end date, of the contract.”
Mr Ranatunga alleged there was a mafia behind the tender process. They had noticed it after taking over four months ago.
“One company had been selected for three separate tenders relating to fuel supplies,” he revealed. While the tender process was complete and the bidder selected, Mr Ranatunga said the tenders hadn’t yet been awarded when he assumed duties.
The new management focused on reducing operational costs and found it could save between US$ 250,000 and US$300,000 on each shipment by introducing a new filtration process for fuel, he added.
A report was presented to the Technical Evaluation Committee and the committee had recommended to CEYPETCO not to award all three tenders to one company as it bred corruption. It was also found that selecting one bidder for all meant CEYPETCO would not be able to save as much money from each ship through the new filtration process.
This particular company, which the Chairman declined to name, was now involved in spreading rumors that CEYPETCO was planning to float spot tenders as a practice, Mr Ranatunga alleged: “It is because it had not been awarded multiple term tenders like it expected.”
CEYPETCO was working on reforming the tender process. “Under the new scheme, bidders will be able to come to us directly, instead of going through other parties, like they did before,” he added.
No one has yet been punished for the importation of a substandard petrol consignment in June, 2011, which damaged thousands of vehicles after it was released to the market.
On October 23, 2012, the Bribery Commission filed charges in the Colombo Magistrate’s Court against the Petroleum Industries Ministry's former secretary Titus Jayawardena and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC)'s former former Commercial Manager Uditha Wimalanath Doloswala over the importation of the substandard petrol stock. They were charged under Section 70 of the Bribery Act.
Mr Jayawardena's lawyers raised preliminary objections that the Magistrate could not entertain prosecution for offences under the Bribery Act without written sanction from the Commission. They argued that the proceedings had been initiated by the Director General of the Commission, but when a prosecution for an offence under the Bribery Act was filed, written sanction of the Commission was a prerequisite.
After these arguments were rejected, the lawyers filed a revision application with the Colombo High Court, which ruled against Mr. Jayawardena. The case is now again in the Colombo Magistrate’s Court. The next hearing is on February 5, 2018.
More than six years after charges were filed, therefore, the case has made little headway.
Senior lawyer Rienzie Arsecularatne who represents the CPC's former Commercial Manager Doloswala said his client was not challenging the right of the Bribery Commission to file charges and was eager for the trial to proceed and be concluded swiftly.