CPC chief al­leges Mafia in­ter­fer­ence

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

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.

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