CEB Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando resigns
Posted on June 13th, 2022

Courtesy Hiru News

CEB Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to the Minster which has been accepted.

Vice Chairman Nalinda Ilangaokoon has been appointed as the New Chairman of CEB. MEANWHILE INDIAN MEDIA HAD REPORTED THE MATTER , the following is the NDTV report.

In a spiraling controversy over an energy project contract in Sri Lanka awarded to Gautam Adani’s group, the Lankan official who had claimed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa acted under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has resigned.

MMC Ferdinando, the Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), had yesterday retracted his claim that President Rajapaksa had told him PM Modi had pressured him to give the wind power project directly to the Adani Group. He had made this claim on Friday at an open hearing of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), a parliamentary panel.

The allegations involve a 500-megawatt renewable energy project Sri Lanka’s Mannar district. A video posted on Twitter appeared to show Mr Ferdinando making the claim at an open hearing of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). According to newspaper reports, Mr Ferdinando told the panel that Mr Rajapaksa “told me that he was under pressure from Modi”.

Three days after those comments, Mr Ferdinando has quit.

On Sunday evening, following a strong denial by President Rajapaksa on Twitter, Mr Ferdinando had also withdrawn his comments, claiming he had been “overcome with emotion” because of questions suggesting wrongdoing by him.

President Rajapaksa had tweeted: “Regarding a statement made by the #lka CEB Chairman at a COPE committee hearing regarding the award of a Wind Power Project in Mannar, I categorically deny authorisation to award this project to any specific person or entity. I trust responsible communication in this regard will follow.”

His office issued a longer statement “vehemently denying” the charge. The President had “categorically stated that he had not at any time given authorisation to award a wind power project in Mannar to any person or any institution,” the statement said.

“Sri Lanka is currently in an acute shortage of power and President desires to expedite implementation of mega power projects as early as possible. However, no undue influence will be used in awarding such projects. Project proposals for large-scale renewable energy projects is limited, but special attention will be paid to the selection of institutions for the projects, which will be carried out strictly in accordance with the transparent and accountable system by the government of Sri Lanka,” said President Rajapaksa’s office.

A day later, Mr Ferdinando was quoted by Sri Lankan daily The Morning as apologizing and saying that due to “unexpected pressures and emotions”, he was compelled to name the Indian Prime Minister.

The controversy erupted a day after Sri Lanka changed its laws and dropped competitive bidding for energy projects. Opposition parties accused the government of making the change to facilitate the Mannar energy project contract awarded to the Adani group.

The Adani group figured in the parliamentary debate on the Electricity Amendment Bill before it was passed amid opposition protests. The Opposition alleged that the government was rushing through the amendments to give large renewable energy deals to Adani group, which signed an unsolicited government-to-government agreement to build the Mannar wind power plant.

The main Opposition SJB in Lanka demanded that projects beyond 10 MW capacity should go through a competitive bidding process, but a majority of government MPs voted against the clause.

The Adani Group reportedly won contracts to develop two wind power projects, in Mannar and in Pooneryn, in December.

Gautam Adani had visited Sri Lanka in October and had tweeted about his meeting with President Rajapaksa.

In 2021, the Adani Group had signed a $700 million deal with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to develop and run the strategic Colombo Port’s West International Container Terminal.

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