Daily Mirror - Print Edition

Only bureaucrats, not politicians involved in Chinese fertilizer scam: Minister

09 Dec 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • Says will appoint a commission chaired by a  retired judge
  • the matter was referred to COPE one year ago and no probe was conducted

By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana

Admitting that there has been a scam in connection with  the reversing of inferior quality organic fertilizer imported from China  and making a payment of $ 6.7 million to the supplier, Agriculture  Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said only a few officials were involved  in it, according to initial investigations.   

Responding to an oral question raised by MP Dayasiri  Jayasekera in Parliament, Minister Amaraweera said the initial reports  have revealed that no politician is involved in the scam.  

“I have decided to appoint a commission chaired by a  retired judge. The final appointment will be made shortly and the  commission will be able to begin the probe soon,” the Minister said.  

The Minister accepted that a payment of $ 6.7 million had  been made to the supplying company, even though the stock was sent back.  However, Mr. Jayasekera and others including Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said there is no point in appointing a  commission. “The ulterior motive behind the appointment of a commission  is to clear politicians and to put the blame on the officers. Besides,  the matter was referred to COPE one year ago and no probe was conducted  on it,” he said.  

MP Jayasekera also said that many important probes have come  to a standstill as a result of suspending COPE meetings while its  chairman had gone missing. “We request that COPE be made active again as  soon as possible.  

Minister Amaraweera who responded said Parliament should  advise on the steps that has to be taken concerning the scam.  “Parliament should tell me what to do if appointing a commission to  probe the scam is not effective,” he said.  

Also, he said the Agriculture Ministry will not be able to  take action against some officers involved in the scam as they are no  longer attached to the ministry.