Special report By Prageeth Sampath Karunathilleke
In accordance with an agreement entered into by the Sri Lankan government and the Exim Bank of China on September 9, 2010, the Ceylon Electricity Board initiated the Uthuru Wasanthaya Project. Under this loan agreement, the cost of the project was estimated at USD 37,246,343.32. In terms of this loan agreement, the
Sri Lankan government has to repay this loan in 10 years. The Ceylon Electricity Board does not make any payment in this regard. Accordingly, this payment had been accounted as a grant from the Sri Lankan government.
However, the amount accounted has been recorded at Rs.4,281,749,542. In terms of this agreement, the Ceylon Electricity Board and the China National Complete Plan Import and Export Corporation had agreed on February 15, 2010 to provide USD 23,923,272.85 and in addition to provide goods and equipment to the value of Rs.1,532,153,104.55. This agreement had been amended on September 17, 2010 and accordingly, USD 900,000 had been reduced from the original agreement and the new value amended as USD 23,023,272.85. Further, in addition to the local value Rs.104,022,000 had been added and the value amended as Rs.1,636,175,104.55 and connected as an addition to the original CEB/PSDNP/2009/01.
There had been fifty, 13/850 concrete posts at the premises and few among them were slanted. It had been reported that since the discovery of this fraud, the CEB has done everything within its potential to cover up the story. A special committee comprising Engineers was appointed for the second time to study the concrete posts.
A decision to establish the CEB Uthuru Wasanthaya stores in Nedumkulam on the Vavuniya-Oyamadu road was taken thereafter. One of the suppliers, Complant company, had entrusted the Richardson Engineering company with supplying 13m/850kg and 11m/350 of specification electrical posts. The local suppliers were entrusted with the supply of 64000 posts of 8.3/100kg specification.
However, information was received thereafter regarding large scale irregularities being prevalent in the Uthuru Wasanthaya project. In the annual stock taking in 2014, a comparison with the books of records revealed that concrete posts and reinforced concrete posts to the value of Rs.32,241,010.00 had gone missing. An examination of the stores also revealed a shortage of 6 items. The overall amount in this regard is Rs.37,186,402.50.
The Internal Audit of the CEB too had conducted an investigation and it was found that that there had been a shortage of 204 posts of 13m/850kg and 194 posts of 11/350. Further investigations revealed that the company had short supplied but had issued faked receipts. In order to make up for the loss, there had been instances of replacing them with removed concrete posts. It was found that during the 100-day- government, these lapses had been brought to the notice of the Investigation Manager by the then Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. According to reports reaching us, 206 posts of 13/850 and 194 posts of 11/350 brought for the Uthuru Wasanthaya had not been supplied but payments had been obtained. In order to hide the shortfall, the once-used and removed concrete posts had been used by the CEB engineers with the connivance of suppliers. During an inspection carried out by the investigation unit of the CEB on June 25, 2015, 185 posts of 11/350 metres had been found lying in a land adjoining the stores of the Uthuru Wasanthaya. Closer examination of these posts revealed that they had not been made according to the required specifications. The numbers appearing on these posts had been erased with the application of cement. Some of them were found to be crooked in shape. With these findings, the CEB had tried various methods to cover it up. A second investigation deploying knowledgeable engineers was carried out on the instructions of a special committee appointed for this purpose. We have in our possession both these investigation reports which prove the shortage of concrete posts. There were differing opinions on the quality of some of these concrete posts by these separate committees. However, overall, the CEB suffered a loss of Rs.5,226,910 in the supply and delivery of the concrete posts and the verification of stocks of other equipment, a shortage amounting to Rs.5,026,892.50.
Further investigations now prove that the actual shortage of posts is in the region of 774. The total uncovered losses amount to Rs.37,268,902.50. On August 10, 2015, the internal audit division of the CEB had informed the CID to conduct a special investigation. It was reported during the entire investigation that a fraud amounting to Rs.38,712,299.40 had been committed, including the shortage of 774 concrete posts to the CEB. It had been reported, however, in the final accounts on December 31, 2015 as Rs.29,470,739.40. Our inquiries revealed that on the instigation of an officer of the CEB, Rs.9,241,560 was taken off from the debtors’ account.
Legal action is now in process, relating to the fraud of Rs.38,700,000 approximately committed under the Uthuru Wasanthaya of the CEB. The CEB too is conducting its own investigations and it is reported that only 70% of the investigations had been completed as there had been obstructions to the investigations. It is hinted that the delay in the conduct of the investigations is due to the fact that the Deputy General Manager at the time who supervised the Uthuru Wasanthaya has now been appointed General Manager of the CEB.
There is information to believe that certain engineers of the CEB are now conspiring in secret to cover up this massive loss caused to the CEB. They are using various strategies to prevent this news from being leaked to the media. Certain high officials of the media had been drafted. Through these moves, the guilty are using whatever resources they can to bury this issue and therefore, we expect those in authority to intervene in order that justice may prevail.
Has the investigation into the Uthuru Wasanthaya Project’s financial irregularities amounting to Rs. 38.7 million been swept under the carpet?
The newspaper inquired about the allegations levelled against CEB from its General Manager Yamuna Samarasinghe.
QIs this the General Manager?
QI am a journalsit.
From where are you speaking?
QFrom a newspaper
Q We wish to know some information.
Q We heard that the investigation into the Rs. 38.2 million rupees project that comes under the purview of the Uthuru Wasanthaya Project has been swept under the carpet. Is this true?
I don’t understand what you say.
Q Uthuru Wasanthaya…?
(The reporter was put on hold for a moment and made to listen to another ringtone for a while)
Q Hello, hello…can I speak for a minute ma’am?
I am now at a meeting.
(The former ringtone was played on the phone again before it was disconnected).