Corruption in coal procurement: Prof Peiris wants heads to roll

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Rebel SLPP MP Prof. G.L. Peiris says that the recent resignation of Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, PC, and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, from a ministerial subcommittee inquiring into procurement of coal for Lakvijaya coal-fired power plant complex at Norochcholai revealed the failure on their part to take tangible action against corruption.

The former External Affairs Minister said that the two President’s Counsel couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for what was going on in utterly corrupt coal procurement process by quitting the ministerial subcommittee.

Prof. Peiris also took up this issue at Wednesday’s special media briefing at Nawala, where he dealt with the government’s efforts to put off Local Government polls scheduled for March 09.Prof. Peiris asked his former Cabinet colleagues whether they really believed their resignations were sufficient at a time organised racketeers were bleeding the country.

The subcommittee was appointed to inquire into procurement of 720,000 tonnes of coal.Referring to their letters of resignations addressed to the Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Peiris said that both Rajapakse and Sabry owed a lucid explanation.

The former minister asked whether it was fair by the hapless public that ministers tasked with cleaning up coal procurement process conveniently gave up their responsibility claiming the absence of cooperation from those involved in the process.

Following their resignations, a new ministerial subcommittee has been constituted with Industries and Plantation Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Environment Minister Ahamed Nazeer Zainulabdeen, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha, and State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe.

Prof. Peiris said that the resignations proved corruption was continuing though the cash-strapped government repeatedly urged the public to bear up hardships.

The SLPP National List lawmaker alleged that procurement of coal seemed to be beyond proper scrutiny at any level whereas the public were repeatedly told the government lacked wherewithal to pay for new coal shipments.Prof. Peiris called for careful examination of those directly responsible for procurement process as bankrupt Sri Lanka couldn’t afford to have the current fraudulent system continuing.

Prof. Peiris called the media briefing in the wake of the government deciding to procure 720,000 metric tonnes of Russian coal from two companies–China’s Combasst Industries Development Ltd and Dubai’s Coral Energy DMCC. The original plan was to buy the said amount of coal from Indonesia’s PT Arista Mitra Jaya. That plan has fallen through.

Courtesy The Island

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Disclaimer: Corruption in coal procurement: Prof Peiris wants heads to roll - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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