There is an allegation of a corrupt deal in the awarding of the tender for the construction of a 350 megawatt natural gas power plant at Kerawalapitiya. According to energy experts, a top official of the ministry of power and energy, who is also in the tender board, is influencing the tender to be given to a Korean company, the highest bidder. The CEB called open international competitive bids for the 250 million US dollar (Rs. 3,750 million) project that aims to cater to electricity requirements in the next 25 years.
Eight bidders made submissions which were inspected by the CEB and a technical evaluation committee for their professional technical capabilities.
The committee disregarded influence by the ministry official and shortlisted three foreign companies, two foreign-local partnerships and a local company for a second round of evaluation by the tender board.
There, the ministry official intervened and tried to get only the tender paper submitted by the Korean company opened on July 13, but that was stopped due to opposition by other members of the tender board. That official is raising various technical issues and trying to get the tender awarded to the Korean company on the basis of a personal clarification he was given by that company without the tender board’s knowledge. That reason alone is enough to blacklist the Korean company, energy experts point out.
Also, the deputy chairman of this Korean company was involved in the massive bribery scandal that brought down that country’s president, and had been imprisoned. Therefore, the ministry official’s intervention on behalf of such an ill-famed company is highly questionable. Energy experts say the state will have to spend an additional Rs. 15,000 million a year if this construction is handed over to the Korean company.
When contacted, ministry secretary Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda said the tender has been put off due to issues that have arisen due to the tender board’s refusal to accept unqualified bids. He claimed all bidders, excepting one, chosen by the technical evaluation committee have not fulfilled the tender requirements. Batagoda said he would submit a report to the subject minister and the cabinet with regard to the differing views the technical evaluation committee, tender board and himself were having. He also refuted the allegation that he was trying to get the tender awarded to a particular company as a mud-slinging. He had not made any influence as allege, Batagoda added.