In a letter written by the Anti Corruption Chairman Ven. Ulapone Sumangala Thera he points out that the manner in which the current government is engaging in corruption is far worse than their predecessors.
Citing the Matara-Mattala expressway contract scam, he said the reputation of the Good Governance regime is in jeopardy due to the corrupt actions of some in the Highways Ministry.
The estimated cost of the 96 km stretch of highway from Matara to Mattala during the Rajapaksa regime was Rs. 242 billion. Consultation and planning expenses was an estimated Rs. 12 billion.
The 30 km stretch from Matara to Beliatta for Rs. 103.28 billion, the 26 km stretch from Beliatta to Wetiya at Rs. 55.5 billion, the 15 km stretch from Wetiya to Andarawewa at Rs. 31.57 billion and the 15 km stretch from Andarawewa to Mattala through Hambantota was estimated at Rs. 52.16 billion.
The Chinese contractors had made arrangements to obtain the loan from a Chinese bank and provide the government with the loan facility for this project.
The 100 day government:
The then Highways Minister under the 100 day government, Kabir Hashim had sought the advice of a technical committee headed by renowned Engineer M.B.S. Fernando in order to re-review the construction of the stretch of expressway from Matara to Mattala.
This report was handed over to the minister on April 28, 2015.
According to the report, the estimated cost for the already constructed stretch from Matara to Beliatta, the contractors had added an additional 40% to the actual cost and accordingly, as such the actual cost of the stretch of expressway is not Rs. 103 billion but Rs. 89.9 billion, it was revealed.
The Technical Committee had further pointed out that the cost of the expressway can be reduced by around Rs. 123 billion.
Scam of Rs. 123 billion:
Although the current government should have taken the report by M.B.S. Fernando’s technical committee into consideration and annulled the existing contract and followed a fresh tender procedure in a transparent manner, this government too has awarded the tender to the same contractors hired by the previous regime, at the same price.
Therefore, the Anti-corruption Front points out that there is a Rs. 123 billion tender fraud happening even under the current government.
The expressway construction cost is currently being estimated under the current Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella and the contract is to be awarded to the same contractors.
A higher cost than before:
Although the contract should have been awarded at a much lesser revised price, currently measures are being taken to award the contract at a higher price than the previous estimate.
Accordingly, the stretch of land from Matara to Beliatta has been increased to Rs. 122.5 billion from Rs. 103.28 billion.
The Beliatta to Wetiya stretch has been increased to Rs. 66.83 billion and the stretch from Wetiya to Andarawewa is proposed to be increased to Rs. 39.97 billion.
The final stretch is currently being estimated. Hence under these circumstances, the Anti-Corruption Front urged the President to take measures to immediately stop the misappropriation of public funds taking place under the Highways Ministry.