Written by Staff Writer
23 Aug, 2019 | 8:31 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- Personnel from the National Water Supply and Drainage Board appeared before the Committee on Public Enterprises or COPE yesterday (August 22). When the COPE Chairman, MP Sunil Handunetti questioned if the contract for the Kandy North – Pathadumbara combined water project was estimated at Rs. 16,169 million following discussions, Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara also said that the contract was awarded at a cost of Rs. 24,790 million which is 53% above the actual estimate. The discussion that followed:
Sunil Handunnetti: This 53% is an additional estimate for the contract. Your estimate for one house would be Rs. 15.9 Million. However, the Engineers estimate for the BOQ is Rs. 2.7 million.
Officer: We will rectify the matter during investigations.
Sunil Handunnetti: You did it because COPE said so. Is there no system in place at the National Water Supply and Drainage Board where it does not need to be investigated. Such a high estimate is absolutely worthless. The issue is we are paying a commitment fee.
Officer: As Project Managers, we will pay special attention to this matter.
Sunil Handunnetti: What is the payment for the commitment fee?
Officer: The payment comes from the treasury.
Sunil Handunnetti: No. It’s the people’s money.
Officer: As the Ministry does not make the payment, I am not aware of the amount.
Sunil Handunnetti: Are none of you aware of the amount? How much was paid to date and what is the agreed loan amount?
Officer: We have not received the loan tranche as yet.
Sunil Handunnetti: Are you aware that the commitment fee is Rs. 79 million?
Dayasiri Jayasekera: You are connected to this and there is no coordination among you. It means the Treasury had given its approval for this and you are unaware and paying the commitment fee for this. The payment of Rs. 79 million is public funds”
It was revealed in COPE that serious issues had arisen in projects carried out at the National Water Supply and Drainage Board where contracts were given without calling for tenders.
Officer: The unsolicited proposal is the main issue here.
Sunil Handunnetti: The Cabinet had taken a policy-based decision on not granting approval for voluntary project proposals. Was a decision taken elsewhere to say rather than calling for competitive bids, one must accept unsolicited proposals?
Officer: Approval was obtained after a resubmission to Cabinet. There is one for Haragama in Kundasale. We submitted the proposal for Eppawala Rajangane, and we are yet to receive the cabinet decision.
Dayasiri Jayasekera: Why are you submitting proposals when such things are taking place? Why are you going ahead when a decision was taken not to?
Treasury Representative: In my opinion, when a cabinet decision is made the treasury does not entertain unsolicited proposals. If such a process was followed, the rule was violated even before submissions were made to Cabinet. As per the decision reached such proposals cannot be submitted to Cabinet. If that does happen approval will be given and it will be made into law. If the order is NO, before submission, the matter could have been halted at the administrative level
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