by Shamindra Ferdinando
Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has removed attorney-at-law Maithri Gunaratne from the post of Chairman Lanka Coal Company (LCC) a week after the UNPer exposed sordid coal deals perpetrated at Sri Lanka’s expense.
Former Southern Provincial Council member confirmed his removal and the disbanding of the board of directors Secretary to the Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Dr B. H. S. Batagoda over weekend called for the immediate removal of the board of directors of LCC on the basis of Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe’s report pertaining to the shortcomings and failures during 2009-2016 period.
Batagoda also called for an emergency meeting of the shareholders of the company to discuss the situation and to take remedial measures.
In a letter dated Jan. 15, 2017, Batagoda has advised Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambapalitiya to remove the board of directors.
Recently Chairman of LCC attorney-at-law Maithri Gunaratne flayed the ministry, Special Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (SCAPC) and Batagoda for awarding a coal tender to Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pvt Limited, which is said to have caused a loss of over four billion rupees to Sri Lanka on an earlier occasion.
Batagoda also sent copies of the letter to Secretary to the President, Secretary to the Premier, the AG, Secretary Ports and Shipping Ministry, Secretary Sectoral Committee of Parliament dealing with coal and Chairman LCC.
Gunaratne said the LCC should have sought a clarification from the Supreme Court in the wake of the apex court in June last year suggesting that LCC ‘may cancel’ the tender, but the Ministry instead sought an opinion from the Attorney General, who recommended that the Cabinet take whatever decision. Therefore, those who had the power to influence decision went ahead with the deal, Gunaratne alleged. The UNPer is also on record as having said that he was asked to step down.
Batagoda found fault with the board of directors of LCC for not taking remedial measures and tangible action to avert losses. Batagoda suggested that in accordance with the recommendations made by the AG, it would be necessary to ascertain whether LCC was required to function. The top Power Ministry official said that LCC fate should be examined against the backdrop of its failure to take remedial measures as recommended by the AG.
Civil activist Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon yesterday told The Island that Gunaratne had been targeted for speaking out against those involved in mega corruption. Tennakoon pointed out that the recommendations made by the Power Ministry Secretary were certainly contrary to the Supreme Court opinion.
Batagoga, however, on the basis of the AG’s report pointed out that as LCC wasn’t essential for the purchase of coal, relevant authorities should examine the requirement for its existence