DGM confirms charges union has levelled against Former Lankan Petroleum Minister

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Petroleum Corporation Deputy General Manager confirms charges union levelled against Former Minister of Petroleum, Arjuna Ranatunga, that he attempted to get three long term tenders cancelled.

Former Minister of Petroleum, Arjuna Ranatunga had attempted in October 2017, to get three long term tenders cancelled, although he had sat on the committees that selected the bidders, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating corruption of the current administration yesterday.

Mahendra Kumara Garusinghe, Petroleum Corporation Deputy General Manager told the PCoI that in the middle of 2017, the CPC stock review committee decided that three long term tenders should be called to fulfill the fuel requirements between August 2017 and March 2018. Minister Ranatunga, who had been recently appointed as Petroleum Minister also sat on the review committees that decided on it.

"We went through the regular process. We appointed a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) and then we went to the Special Standing Cabinet Approved Procurement Committee (SSCAPC). Then bids were called from the registered suppliers and we chose Petrochina International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd as they were the lowest responsive bidder. Usually after that the Minister puts a cabinet paper and we get approval. But this time nothing happened," he said.

A few months later they received a document from the Cabinet informing that they had rejected a proposal by the Minister of Petroleum to cancel these three tenders.

"That meant the minister had put a cabinet paper to get these tenders cancelled.

He did this after sitting on the review committees that took the decision," Chairman of the PCoI, retired Supreme Court judge, Upali Abeyratne said.

Garusinghe also said that while the cabinet had rejected the proposal made by the Minister, the validity period of the tender had expired. Thus the way was paved to go for spot tenders that resulted in a colossal loss to the CPC.

CPC incurred a loss of USD 3.9 million in 2017/2018, after Minister Arjuna Ranatunga cancelled three long term tenders and procured oil using spot tender method, Bandula Saman Kumara, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya told the Presidential Commission on Tuesday.

Chairman Abeyratne also read out a part of the cabinet paper in which the minister had said all three tenders had been given to a single company and that this was a concern to be addressed by the management of CPC. Garusinghe said that the tender was given to Petrochina because they had the lowest responsive bid and that they had no objection to the award.

Arjuna Ranatunga’s brother, Dhammika was the Chairman of CPC at the time.

"So essentially all these were steps taken by the Minister to get short term spot tenders," Chairman Abeyrathne remarked.

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