May 28, 2017

TU urges Mangala to prevent rosewood racketeers Featured

The Customs Services Union wants new finance minister Mangala Samaraweera to mediate and prevent racketeers from swindling a consignment of rosewood, seized in 2014, at a very low price.

Secretary of the union J.A. Gunatilake has written to Samaraweera, alleging attempts by certain forces to prevent the sale of the 420 tons of the timber through tender-calling several times.

Additional condition to tender paper…

The last time the timber was to be sold, the then minister Ravi Karunanayake had instructed that a condition that a non-refundable deposit of Rs. 10 million should be made when placing bids was included in the tender paper, said the letter.

After the matter was brought to the attention of the president and the public, that deposit was reduced to Rs. one million, but since that money was not refundable, no bids were made.

Bid price even below set price

Using this as an excuse, the Customs pricing committee brought down the price of the rosewood further, but a bid of 7.5 dollars per kilo, which is below even that price, was made on May 20, and it accepted it.

The committee submitted it for the director general’s approval.

Presently overseas, the DG is due back on June 29, and if he approves the bid, the Treasury will lose a massive sum of money to the racketeers, the TU said.

Bidder already advertised in internet

The bidder in question has already posted an advertisement in the internet to sell the rosewood, at a price of 16 USD per kilo.

The TU said the racketeers who are plotting to buy the consignment at a very low price are very powerful.

It has asked Samaraweera to cancel the tender in question dated 20 May, remove the Rs. one million deposit condition and advertise both locally and internationally in order to sell the rosewood at a reasonable price.