20 January 2019
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Coal Tender: PAB refuses to sit

coalThe fifty billion rupee per year tender to supply coal to the Lakvijaya power plant into Norochcholai for three years has run into a yet another controversy with the members of the Procurement Appeal Board (PAB) refusing to sit following allegations made in the media against the PAB by Power and Energy Ministry Secretary Dr. B. M. S Batagoda and a member of the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (SCAPC).


An authoritative source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Daily Mirror that due to the allegations made by Dr. Batagoda without evidence, the appeal process of the controversial tender had come to a standstill.

The PAB was due to meet on Monday at 1 pm to present its report but the meeting did not go ahead as planned due to the PAB members refusing to sit following the allegations against them.

The tender was referred to the PAB after at least four bidders complained about the tender being granted to Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte Ltd after it had initially been awarded to Noble Resources Pte Ltd.

In an earlier report, the Daily Mirror revealed that the tender to obtain over 2.2 million tonnes of coal for a period of three years – said to be one of the biggest tenders of recent times – was awarded to Noble Resources International Pte Ltd after careful scrutiny by the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) on June 13. The tender was awarded following a competitive bidding process in which 7 Companies competed to obtain the tender after the bids being opened on June 11.

However, on June 29, Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte Ltd which had not been granted the tender had written to the SCAPC calling for a re-evaluation of its bid. The communication was against the code prescribed to bidders. The SCAPC on the very same day had written to Lanka Coal Company and ordered them to re scrutinize the tenders and to disregard two vital criteria previously imposed with regard to the size of the coal. Thereafter on July 3 SCAP received the reevaluation report of the TEC and on July 6 the Tender was awarded to the complainant resulting in the other bidders crying foul and appealing the awarding of the tender.

Pointing out the sequence of events, the source questioned the actions of Dr. Batagoda.

“The arbitrary actions and the statement of the Secretary just before the PAB was due to meet and present their report raises serious questions. It seems that it was his intention to jeopardize the whole tender procedure. With his statement to the media, he had managed to keep the PAB from issuing their report. He also called for a spot tender removing the size specification which was exactly the condition that Swiss Singapore wanted to be omitted. So, whose tune is the Secretary dancing to?” he questioned.

Until new members are appointed to the PAB by the President, the matter cannot be resolved. This means that there is a risk of the power plant running out of coal to function which could result in massive losses.

However, when contacted by the Daily Mirror, Dr. Batagoda denied issuing such a statement to any media.

“Nobody from this particular newspaper contacted me regarding this issue. I don’t understand how they could have quoted me in this manner. Everyone, including the PAB, thinks I have given an interview but I had nothing to do with the article that appeared quoting me. The letter that they are talking about is a detailed observation I made as the Secretary of the Power and Energy Ministry. In that I simply gave my observation because I thought that would be helpful. This is a confidential letter and I don’t know how it was leaked to the media,” he said.

When contacted by the Daily Mirror earlier regarding the issue, Dr. Batagoda stated “the company which had initially been granted the tender was a company that had always obtained this tender for the past five years. There was nothing wrong in their communication to the SCAPC and we have chosen the most suitable bidder.”

Courtesy: http://www.dailymirror.lk/

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