Fresh charges against CPC over tender manipulations

By Bandula Sirimanna

Tender manipulations at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) appear to be continuing even after the appointment of a high-powered, five-member procurement committee with fresh controversies arising from moves to award contracts to black-listed companies and attempts to bypass the tender process.
Trade unions and suppliers alleged that a Swiss-based company, Vitol, blacklisted by the CPC for supplying substandard fuel two years ago was reinstated by the CPC upon a payment of US$ 150,000 and top CPC officials were manipulating tender procedures and deadlines to favour this company.
The company was recently blacklisted by the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), India’s largest importer of crude oil and products, according to a Reuter story.

It said IOC had barred Vitol from participating in its tenders and that other refiners might follow suit.
In another development, the CPC was trying to award a 240,000 MT gas contract to Viet Petrol, the state owned petroleum company of Vietnam, outside the tender process, a trade union leader alleged.
“It may be a state-owned company, but it should have participated in the tender,” he said adding that some state bodies acted as front companies for others for a fee.

The trade union leader said the lowest bidder at the gas oil tender -— which closed on September 9 with offers to be valid for two weeks ending September 23 — was the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) but its offer was not in conformity with tender terms. The lowest bidder conforming to tender terms was Daewoo of Korea.

But a powerful politico in the five-member committee wanted to give the award to Viet Petrol which was not among the initial bidders, he said. CPC Chairman Harry Jayawardane was not available for comment as he is in the United States with the presidential delegation.

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