- Calls for Procurement Commission to be operational
- Appeals to Govt. to look at body of work done since 2015 to update the procurement process
- Says efforts since 1980s to improve system has been largely unsuccessful
National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairman Karu Jayasuriya has called for the activation of the Procurement Commission to stop large-scale tender irregularities.
“We are deeply troubled to learn of many large-scale irregularities with regard to tenders that are being shown in the media on a daily basis. The mafia that dominates tender fraud in Sri Lanka is formidable. If the Procurement Commission hadn’t been abolished, opportunities would not exist for vested parties to embezzle billions of trillions rupees that we hear so often today,” Jayasuriya told the media this week.
He recalled that former governments since 1980 had endeavoured to suppress this mafia.
“However, their efforts were unsuccessful as the mafia pursued their objectives with vehemence. Honest MPs, ministers, secretaries and heads of departments were helpless,” Jayasuriya opined.
As a result, when the new Government was formulating policies in 2015, it understood the importance of establishing a fully-fledged commission, one that would act as an essential monitoring mechanism on public spending, for the benefit of the people of this country.
Jayasuriya said modern methods employed by countries which adhere to strict democratic principles were utilised in the formation of this new Procurement Commission.
“We are disheartened by the actions of the Minister of Justice, unaware of facts, for questioning the role of the Procurement Commission during the last five years. You may refer to the speech delivered by the Minister of Justice, Ali Sabri PC, in Parliament on 21 October,” Jayasuriya said.
The Procurement Commission commenced operations in November 2015. Procurement guidelines were published in the Extraordinary Gazette No. 2070/15 dated 9 May 2018. Although the procurement guidelines for 2018 were published in the Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 2144/60 dated 12 October 2019 after being reviewed by the Presidential Secretariat and the Cabinet of Ministers, the Bill was delayed due to impending elections. Therefore, concerns were raised regarding the validity of the Act.
“Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is fully aware of our efforts in this regard,” Jayasuriya said. “For nearly four-and-a-half years, the Bill was stuck at various departments, ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, the President’s Office, and finally at the Attorney General’s Department. The cause for protracted delays in some departments was due to the actions of the tender mafia,” Jayasuriya alleged.
He said with the rapid growth of information technology, manufacturing and construction around the world coupled with the expansion of international trade and the increasing volume of investments, many countries have modernised their procurement laws and procedures over the past decade.
“New concepts such as e-procurement and green procurement have been introduced into the procurement process. Furthermore, new criteria have been introduced to enhance its efficiency and economic productivity. Therefore, we continue our call for the Procurement Commission to be operational because the National Movement for a Just Society strongly believes that it can stop large-scale fraud,” Jayasuriya empasised.