Champika responsible for Coal fraud
Posted on July 29th, 2016

By Anuradha Herath Courtesy Ceylon Today

?: Do you have sufficient evidence to complain to the Anti-Corruption Secretariat with regard to the coal tender?
A: We, as an anti-corruption organization, decided to complain based on the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on the report submitted by the Auditor General. With the evidence, it is very clear that this amounts to misuse of public property. Certain incidents roused the conscience of the Supreme Court.
?: Do you have evidence to directly name the person who is connected to this fraud?

A: For this, the former and present Cabinets as well as former Ministers of Power and Energy are answerable. If someone says this did not take place during their tenures, they must not be Cabinet Members. The chairman of the company has made submissions to the Supreme Court stating that a fraud has taken place. Still it has not been investigated. People’s representatives are responsible for protecting public property. That is why we are doing this, to do the maximum we can. Now, Champika Ranawaka says this is besmirching his good name. If it did not take place during his tenure, he can come forward to correct this injustice caused to the people.
?: Do you mean Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka is responsible for this fraud?
A: If it did not take place during his time, it should have happened during Pavithra Wanniarachchi’s time. All former Ministers of Power and Energy, including Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, must accept the responsibility for this incident. The Cabinet, which approved this fraud, is also answerable. Champika, John, Pavithra and Siyambalapitiya must prove their innocence.
?: What about the statement made by Champika Ranawaka that his good name has been tarnished?
A: If he is not wrong, he must not panic. As a former minister, he must act to recover the loss of public funds. People may decide who the culprits of the fraud are.
?: Various factions express various opinions on this fraud. According to your knowledge, under which minister this fraud was initiated?
A: The tender process was initiated early. But, Minister Champika took over the ministry after that. Champika Ranawaka was the Minister of Power and Energy until 17 September 2015. That is why he and the Cabinet are answerable for this. People pay for that fraud. Champika must not seek damages from us. Instead, he must repair the damage done to the people.
?: Recently, Minister Champika Ranawaka said during a cabinet meeting that the Spot Tender on purchasing coal was profitable for the government.
A: Not only the Cabinet discussion, but a UNP workshop was also held on the coal fraud. It was very simple. They could tell to the Supreme Court that there was no fraud and it was profitable for the government. They did not do that. After all, now the UNP and the Cabinet try to appear clean.
?: Do you mean that they tried to whitewash this through discussions and workshops?
A: Yes. In that case, are the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court the guilty party here? What they must do at this time is not to look after their own interests. What is apparent from the way they are acting is that they have something to hide.
?: The Minister of Power and Energy has submitted a Cabinet Paper appointing three of his loyalists to the investigation committee on this.
A: This is a case of horage ammagen pena ahanawa (seeking the help of the thief’s mother to identify the thief). Instead of doing this, they must act to safeguard public property. They try to cover up the fraud. This kind of committee will drag on at least for three years. It will not work eventually.
?: Why do you think they appointed such a committee?
A: What they should have done was to get an independent audit done. In some instances, the conditions of the tender were changed as per the needs of the suppliers, as shown by the Supreme Court. The loss due to this deal is now around Rs 3,000 million.

?: What will you do if there is not going to be an independent investigation?
A: We must get the support of an international audit firm to investigate this.
?: Why does the secretary of a ministry say that the deal has brought profit to the government instead of losses? Does he want to undermine this?

A: The person who is responsible for this fraud is the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy. They conduct workshops to show they are not part of the government and to sweep the fraud under the carpet. Why did the Supreme Court deliver a judgment on this then? Politicians are double-tongued.

?: MP Nalin Bandara says the report of the Auditor General is erroneous.
A: He must get his head examined. The Auditor General can supervise the monetary powers of Parliament. Where was Nalin Bandara when the Avant Garde incident was exposed? These are deals. They hold workshops and press conferences on the deals done by corrupt elements. They could have told these things before the Supreme Court. On one hand, they insult the Court. People must evaluate the statements made by Nalin Bandara and the Supreme Court.

?: Is complaining to the Anti-Corruption Secretariat alone about this issue enough? Will you not raise this in Parliament?
A: We will question this in Parliament. We will take this to COPE with the facts mentioned in the Supreme Court judgment. People may see the results then.
We urge the ministers who still have a conscience to come forward immediately to act with regard to this fraud.

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