Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry alleged  for involving in fuel tender bending 

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry is now interefearing into the fuel procurement process making recommendations to eliminate prospective bidders in favor of a few selected international suppliers awarding them the Gasoline term tenders causing millions of dollar loss for the country. 

The latest tender bender has come to light in the term tender floated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation( CPC)  to import 1.8 million barrels of Gasoline which had been tainted with irregularities  corrupt practices and wheeler dealings of  officials in connivance with the foreign ministry, disgruntled fuel suppliers alleged.

Three bidders have submitted their applications for the tender and one the lowest bidder Coral Energy Pte Ltd has been rejected by the Special Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee while selecting Oman Trading Limited.

The three bidders who applied for the tender were Oman Trading Limited, Vitol Asia (Singapore) Ltd and Coral Energy Pte Ltd Singapore.

In a letter sent by the Energy Ministry under the signature of its secretary K.D.R Olga to Coral Energy informing that due to the failure of verification on the existence of the company and nature of business, the bid of the company has been considered as non responsive.

This is the new practice followed by some corrupt officials engaged in the emergency fuel  procurement process with the aim of getting kickbacks from bidders for the elimination of the  prospective bidders from getting the fuel import tender, these suppliers  pointed out.     

It has been revealed  SL Embassy in Singapore has sent a recommendation on the directions of local authorities stating that a company with US$ 5.3billion revenue in 2022 ‘is not actively engaged in trading’. 

This recommendation is not based on the company’s financials but based on ‘ad hoc’ visits by so-called embassy officials to the company’s office in Singapore, they alleged.  

The Energy Ministry and CPC is  now  in the practice of deciding  on procurement based on ‘office visits’ to the bidders. All the saga is to qualify the next bidder who bills Rs.400 million more to satisfy the increasing  corruption demands despite the country’s current   forex situation.

 This was another example of foreign currency outflows due to negligence and connivance of corrupt officials, they claimed.  

CPC rejects the company which accepts LC and gives credit for officials to make petty money and award to the higher bidder who wants ‘prepayment’, a senior official who wished to remain anonymous said.  

In this  shocking and disgusting new move, CP C makes continuous and  deliberate attempts to disqualify a globally known, strong oil company and has awarded the  contract to a regular supplier (who demands prepayment and who has refused to give any discounts to CPC, he divulged.  

The regular supplier is known to be controlling CPC and its officials making millions of US$ capitalizing on the country’s current forex plight.

When the lowest bidder has offered a price of US$ 1.1 million lesser than the second highest bidder, CPC has used a new practice of planning the  elimination  mission in connivance with corrupt foreign ministry officials and has submitted a report stating that the company is ‘not actively engaged in oil trading’, he added. 

 Several economic experts who expressed concern on this whole affair of the CPCare  asking if a company with ‘US$ 5.3 billion annual rRevenue is not an active trading company’ then what does the term ‘active’ mean? 

Also the trading circle which is well aware about CPC and its corrupt procurement practices which has brought the country to today’s crisis situation is asking as to how Foreign Ministry which is usually corruption free has now stooged down to this level by acting so unprofessionally and unfairly, especially in a country like Singapore.

 It has been observed that ‘Enterprise Singapore’ which is equivalent to SL ‘BOI’ has recommended ‘Coral Energy’ the lowest bidder.

But the foreign ministry official has not consulted Enterprise Singapore, analyzed any documentation including the company financials. 

The decision as per him is based on him going to see the office of the company 3 times and not many professional people being there.

A Joke considering today’s covid situation and the world’s new norm of operating from multiple locations reducing dependency of one office. 

A public interest activist also stated that he will file litigation seeking the opinion of the courts especially to check if CPC made such office visits in the past to each lowest bidder and disqualify them to make the award go to the highest bidder.

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