Sri Lanka is now being embroiled in another coal procurement deal with Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte Ltd (SSOE), sparking allegations of corruption and tender bending continuing the massive frauds in importing coal from 2009 onwards, many times greater than the bond issue, coal importers alleged.

The hidden rewards of buying more and more coal would be of astronomical proportions over the years, those interested in “pushing” coal have enormous potential to wield their diabolically unpatriotic financial power to bend the more honest politicians, administrators and technocrats to their will, they said.

There are bound to be some crooked political heavyweights who favour coal because it would prove to be a long-term godsend that would keep on yielding golden eggs for many years.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has granted approval to purchase 300,000 metric tons of coal for the Norochcholai power plant under a spot tender from Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pte Ltd.

A cabinet decision said the approval came following the endorsement of the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (SCAPC) which considered the necessity of providing coal for the coal power plant in Puttalam.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy is to purchase the required quantity at FOBT price of US$ 60.71 per metric ton from the Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises.

It is mind boggling as to how the new government has given a green light to supply coal to the same company which was involved in a corrupted deal that incurred a loss of approximately Rs.1.2 billion to the country in 2016.

In July 2016, a petition was lodged with the Supreme Court regarding this transaction pertaining to the awarding of tenders to purchase coal that incurred a loss of approximately Rs.1.2 billion to the country.

Though the application was dismissed citing technical reasons, the Supreme Court said that the transaction "shocked the conscience of the Court."

One directive stated that the contract reached with the company in question "may be terminated." It also said that fresh bids be called, in terms of the law for the supply of coal, in keeping with the competitive bidding procedures.

Coal has been purchased on five occasions since the Norochcholai power plant commenced operations. The procurement procedure was handled by the Standing Cabinet Appointed Committee on Procurement and a Technical Evaluation Committee.