Megapolis and Western Province Development Minister Champika Ranawaka
By Chamodi Gunawardana
Denying accusations of involvement in the controversy-mired coal tender for the Lakvijaya power plant, Megapolis Minister Champika Ranawaka yesterday said the tender was called after his stint as Power Minister in 2015.
Responding to statements by Joint Opposition MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Ranawaka rejected calling for a tender and pointed out that if a steering committee was appointed to investigate the tender then it should also probe all tenders given under the previous Government since 2009.
Responding to allegations, Ranawaka said the controversial tender was called for on 22 September 2015 which was beyond his tenure in office that ended with the general election in August 2015.
“The tender documents clearly mention that it was issued under the new minister and it proves these charges are unfounded,” he said. Ranawaka noted that he could only take collective responsibility as a Cabinet member.
Ranawaka also stated that he had written to President Maithripala Sirisena on 13 August 2015 to convey his opinions of the opaque nature of the coal tenders and recommended that a new tender be floated.
The latest tender was called into question after one of the companies that bid for it sought Supreme Court intervention on allegations that it was not granted to the lowest bidder. The Supreme Court noted that there were serious concerns about the tender but only said the Power Ministry “may” call for a fresh tender if it was deemed necessary.
“In my letter I requested the President to accept the recommendations of the Procurement Appeal Board to cancel the tender and call for fresh bids.
The SC had made the same observation on the tender,” He said.
Slamming the previous Government’s tender procedures, Ranawaka claimed there was a powerful ‘coal tender mafia’ since 2009 which enjoyed the support of the top ranks of the previous Government.
“If the so-called Joint Opposition wants to appoint a select committee to investigate this coal tender, I recommend the probe should be done for all tenders issued from 2009 to present,” he said.
Ranawaka further threatened to take legal action against MP Nanayakkara for what he termed the false allegations aimed at tarnishing his image.
-Pic Lasantha Kumara