Bandula claims ignorance of alleged Govt.’s deviation from IMF outlined tender procedures

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Charumini de Silva

Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena

Cabinet Co-Spoke-sman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday expressed ignorance regarding allegations of the Government bypassing tender procedures outlined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During the weekly post-cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday when asked about the Government›s lack of adherence to good governance proposals by the IMF, citing recent incidents  particularly in selecting GBTS-IVS-VFS for outsourcing of visa processing and choosing Adani for a renewable energy, Minister Gunawardena said: “I don’t know any of these two projects,” and refrained from providing further details.  A journalist snapped back asking “As a Cabinet Minister, aren’t you a aware of what is being discussed during Cabinet meeting?” 

Instead of responding promptly to the questions, Gunawardena yesterday elaborated the substantial workload of the Cabinet, with around 50 Cabinet papers being discussed during meetings, making it challenging to recall every detail.

However, he assured that if the issues were considered during Monday’s meeting, he would provide information accordingly.

Gunawardena confirmed that the matters concerning the visa fees and selection of VFS bypassing tender procedures were not discussed during this week’s Cabinet meeting.

Cabinet Co-Spokesman’s remarks come amid growing concerns and speculations regarding the Government›s compliance with IMF’s Governance Diagnostic Assessment Report’s outlined transparency.

Last Friday, during a Central Bank panel discussion on ‘Sustaining Stability’ Advocata Institute Chairman Murtaza Jafferjee questioned the 29 April 2024 Cabinet decision to buy renewable energy from Adani at a tariff of $ 0.0.826 per unit without undergoing a competitive tender process, when the going rate is under $ 0.06. He pointed out that had this project been submitted for international tender, the tariff would have been less than $ 0.05.

Earlier this month, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles came under flack over the lack of transparent procedure on the visa processing outsourcing contract.

IMF Governance Diagnostic Report categorically emphasises the importance of competitive tendering and procurement processes to drive down costs.

With more frequent allegations continuing to surface, stakeholders and the public await further clarification from the Government regarding the adherence to established protocols and regulations.