Monday, 24 March 2014 01:25
UNP MP charges “unsolicited proposals and corruption are becoming epidemic”
Says reactivation of NPA which was closed by MR regime will be the first step to ensure transparency and accountability in Government projects
Warning that unsolicited proposals and corruption are becoming epidemic, UNP MP and its chief spokesman on the economy, Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday called for the reactivation of the National Procurement Agency (NPA) which the President Mahinda Rajapaksa regime shut down in 2007.
“An unprecedented number of unsolicited projects, most of it under Ministries coming under President Rajapaksa and resultant corruption, are now an epidemic killing people,” de Silva charged yesterday at a press conference at Sirikotha.
He also said that the Government’s strategy of resorting to unsolicited projects as well as awarding contracts sans competitive tenders must be immediately reined in as it contravenes the Government’s very own regulations. “This modus operandi doesn’t ensure transparency and the best price because it is only via competitive bidding that fair play and price can be ensured,” UNP MP said.
“If the Government gets unsolicited proposals and sees their relevance, then it should advertise such proposals and call for bids from others who may be interested or competent to undertake same,” Dr. de Silva pointed out.
The Ministry of Finance Circulars 444 and 444/1 clearly stipulates that the Government should make no decisions on unsolicited proposals except with Cabinet approval in exceptional circumstances.
Brandishing documents given by President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s regime at the press conference, UNP MP said that the Colombo Katunayake Expressway was facilitated within nine months through a competitive tender process.
“This goes on to confirm that an open and transparent process does not necessarily cause delay. In fact the Tender Committee for the Katunayake Express project in 1999/2000 was chaired by the current Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera. If such a process warranted merit then, why a change of heart today,” UNP MP asked. Earlier Dr. Jayasundera was quoted in media that Government’s rigorous tender procedures made big projects impossible.
Dr. de Silva also shot down a statement by Dr. Jayasundera that Parliament gets all relevant information of mega projects. “Can Dr. Jayasundera say with a conscience that James Packer’s project approved doesn’t have a casino?” queried the UNP MP adding “so the truth is not revealed to Parliament.”
The UNP MP said that the National Procurement Agency originally set up by the President Kumaratunga’s regime was closed down by President Rajapaksa after coming to power.
Originally formulated by a Cabinet Memorandum dated 6 May, 2004 by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the President cited an urgent need to formulate a National Procurement Strategy and streamline the National Procurement System and Procedures with a view to eliminate corrupt practices, waste of time and funds, and improve transparency and efficiency pertaining to government work.
This Cabinet Memorandum was based on a Country Procurement Assessment Report on guidelines for the Government tender procedure submitted by the WB in June 2003.