Home / Opinion and Issues/ An unsolicited offer and its ramifications

An unsolicited offer and its ramifications

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00



By Dr. A.C. Visvalingam

The writer had strongly recommended in an article published in June 2018 in several newspapers that no more coal-powered power stations should be built in Sri Lanka and that LNG should become the fuel of choice.

Not only would environmental damage be far less but there would be an added incentive to develop and utilise the gas reserves in the seas immediately surrounding the Island, thereby limiting our dependence on foreign sources of energy to a relatively short period of time. 

Subsequently, when the initial snippets of information came through about a proposal to set up a floating LNG terminal in the sea northwest of Colombo, the writer was quite elated. However, it became a little worrying to learn later on that the imported gas would only be used to fuel the powerhouses at Kerawalapitiya and Kelanitissa and would not cater to other domestic demands. Much worse, there was no provision in this scheme to develop our own natural gas supplies. 

What was also envisaged was to commit this country to buying one million tons of Iranian gas solely through this (South Korean) tenderer/contractor for a period of 20 years and that we would have to pay for this quantity year after year whether we used that amount or not! In other words, we would have to pay for an unwanted supply of “contractual” gas even after developing our own gas fields! 

The cost of the project, after excluding the gas pipelines to the powerhouses and other unavoidable items of expenditure, was mentioned in one newspaper as being close to $ 20 billion. One’s mind boggles at the thought of the probable commission that would have been demanded for getting it through the Sri Lankan Executive branch and then the Legislature.

There are credible whispers to the effect that the President (MS) was especially keen to go ahead with this contract but that the Prime Minister (RW) was against it for unspecified reasons. The vehemence of the animosity that was aroused in MS against RW was apparently over this issue.

The former’s determination to award this contract without undue delay is believed to have led to the unconstitutional appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) as PM and the “sacking” of RW a few hours later – during which period, incidentally, Sri Lanka was “blessed” to have two PMs, whereas every other country manages with one. 

It can hardly be considered to be a coincidence that, within a week or so of MR’s unconstitutional appointment as PM, the unsolicited deal was approved by Cabinet of the new Government subject to counter-proposals being invited. The time given for counter-proposals to be submitted for a highly-complex project of this magnitude was only five weeks which was obviously done in order to prevent anyone else making a viable offer. 

One may as well have told the whole world that this was all eye-wash to give the people of this country an utterly false impression that everyone was being given a fair chance to compete on a level playing field, which was plainly far from true. With the restoration of RW as PM, this gigantic rip-off was mercifully nipped in the bud. 

As Sri Lankan politicians remain a singularly shameless breed, our citizens should maintain unremitting vigilance and demand that the public be kept informed, from the very inception, of all proposals for the implementation of any large projects, with a clear and transparent statement of the Government’s reasons for wanting to go ahead with such projects.

The concerned authorities should also inform the public as to how long they would require to prepare the tender documentation, their estimates of project costs, and how much time would be given to all tenderers to submit their bids. This would permit experienced and well-informed members of the public to make constructive suggestions for optimising the benefits to be gained by going ahead. Not least important of all, the evaluation of bids must not only be done by those who prepare the original documents but also by independent experts of unquestioned integrity.  

The way in which this country had to pay through its nose for the infamous petroleum hedging deal (and the unending “deals” for the supply of wheat, sugar, coal, etc.) should remain a warning to us that Sri Lankans in positions of authority quickly develop such an overwhelming treasonous greed that foreigners can hardly be blamed for exploiting this weakness. This particular LNG project appears to have been abandoned or delayed for the moment but may be sneaked in again along some other route.

It behoves Sri Lankans to be ever wary of our “patriotic” leaders who show an extraordinary interest and enthusiasm for large projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars or more, where the commensurately massive commissions would be paid in dollars into secret accounts in a number of countries that gladly provide the requisite facilities. 

(The writer is a retired Engineering Consultant and 

can be reached via acvisva@gmail.com.)

Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

Whither Sri Lanka?

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

On Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019, suicide bombers from an extremist group caused carnage in six separate locations in Sri Lanka. Over 250 lives were lost and as many injured. The magnitude and co-ordination of their operation indicate several months o

Our Cricket Board simply cannot deliver – why not they all quit honourably?

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

“It is necessary, therefore, for the Government to pay serious attention to the doings of Sri Lanka Cricket [board] and take immediate action to lift their game for the progress of our glorious game.” Question for Sri Lanka Cricket (board) Sri La

Yesterday Tamils, today Muslims and tomorrow who?

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

From the time of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s election victory in 1956, one and only one issue had dominated political party campaigns in this country; and that was communalism. The Tamil community was the main focus of these campaigns for over 50 years

Those who go by social proof are easy prey to crafty schemers

Monday, 17 June 2019

Going after social proof Swiss writer and novelist, Rolf Dobelli, in one of the essays in his 2013 book ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’, has given a fine warning to his readers. He has warned against going by ‘social proof’ or ‘majority view

Columnists More