- Insists external lawyer hired to protect country’s interests, cost only Rs. 6 m
- Ambiguous on whether CMEC will be given project sans tender, but says law will be followed
- Claims Rs. 500 m bribe given during previous Govt. for solar project but refuses to identify parties
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) yesterday sought to defend itself from the controversial Cabinet decision to extend the Norochcholai coal power plant and give the contract to China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) by insisting that the State-run power monopoly was still “studying” the project.
CEB Chairman Vijitha Herath emphasised that the 300MW coal power plant was an initiative from the Government of Sri Lanka and not its Chinese counterpart. He also acknowledged that the CEB is yet to conduct an environmental assessment and consider the other ramifications of the project and insisted a decision would only be made afterwards. When questioned as to whether the project will be tendered and not handed over to (CMEC) as reports have indicated he stressed it will be done as per the Sri Lanka Electricity Act.
“Whatever the final decision it will be in accordance with the law,” Herath said.
He also argued that an external legal expert had to be recruited to negotiate on the proposed coal power plant despite the existence of at least four legal officers within the CEB as it required a specialist.
“Whether it was the hedging deal or other contracts Sri Lanka has repeatedly lost out because it has struggled to have proper contracts. Therefore it was decided that an expert would be used in this instance. The CEB has spent less than Rs. 900,000 on this so far and the total cost will only be about Rs. 6 million, which is far less than what has been reported.”
Reiterating that the Government’s policies were geared to the best interests of the country, Herath also claimed that a Rs. 500 million commission had been demanded by the former Government for a solar power plant. However, despite repeated questions by reporters asking Herath to name the parties involved, he declined to give more details on the matter.