Harry J says he was only a puppet at CPC

Harry Jayawardena

Former CPC Chairman Harry Jayawardena yesterday alleged that an attempt was being made to confuse the public as regards the circumstances under which blacklisted Vitol Asia(Pvt) Limited, Singapore had been reinstated as a supplier of petroleum products to the CPC.

The CPC once again blacklisted the Singaporean company on Aug 3 over a stock of low quality diesel which the CPC took delivery of late last month.

An irate Jayawardena said that he could furnish required documentary evidence to help investigators identify those involved in making decisions that led to the reinstatement of Vitol.

Jayawardena admitted that he was under fire over the reinstatement of Vitol, though he had been nothing but a puppet in the CPC as far as the decision making process in the institution was concerned. He added that he would not have been able to manipulate the process even if he had ever wanted to do so. Challenging Petroleum Ministry and CPC to prove him wrong, Jayawardena said that the board of directors of the CPC had discussed matters concerning Vitol Asia (Pvt) Limited after representations had been made by their representative in Sri Lanka, Rohith Fonseka to Petroleum Ministry seeking the reinstatement of the blacklisted company. Having received Vitol’s appeal, Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayanth had directed the then Petroleum Secretary Titus Jayawardena to inquire into the matter and sent Vitol’s appeal to CPC’s board of directors with the endorsement to take a decision at board level, Jayawardena said.

Responding to a query, the former CPC chief said that having deliberated the issue, the board of directors on June 30,2011 had decided to obtain US$ 150,000 from the company as an ex gratia payment to the CPC. According to him, Vitol had initially offered a payment of US$ 25,000, though it finally paid US$ 150,000. He said: “The Board of Directors of CPC unanimously decided to recommend immediate reinstatement subject to the approval of the Petroleum Ministry. Don’t forget recommending authority included Senior Assistant Secretary of Petroleum Ministry, Ms Sandya Vijayabandara.”

When pointed out that in his capacity as Chairman of the CPC, he had written to Minister Premjayanth informing the latter of the decision taken on June 30, 2011, an angry Jayawardena shot back: “Why not? That was my duty. What is wrong in informing the Minister? Don’t come to wrong conclusions. On behalf of the CPC board of directors, I sought minister’s observations and necessary action.”

Having studied relevant representations, the Cabinet appointed Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) had recommended the reinstatement of the Singaporean firm as a registered supplier on Sept 3, 2011, Jayawardena said, adding that the committee had comprised M.S.D. Ranasiri, Acting Director General, department of Treasury Operations (Chairman/technical Evaluation Committee), S. M. Nandasena, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Industries (member TEC), N.R.R. Jayasekera, Acting Refinery Manager , Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (Member TEC) and J.R. Wickremesinghe, Deputy General Manager, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (Member TEC.

Jayawardena said that Ms W.A. Nalani, Senior Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon) Member TEC) hadn’t been present at the meeting.

On the recommendations made by TEC, the Special Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (SSCATC) decided to reinstate Vitol. The SSCATC was headed by the then Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, D. Vidanagamaarachchi, who was subsequently accommodated on the board of the CPC, according to Jayawardena.

In the wake of recent controversy involving Vitol, Vidanagamaarachchi along with three other board members were replaced.

Jayawardena said now that he had named all those involved in the decision making process as regards the reinstatement of the blacklisted company, the Auditor General or any other agency inquiring into alleged fraudulent activities could get in touch with them.


Courtesy: The Island