Feb 23, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) alleges that a large sum of money has been paid as commission for the 1st phase of the Norochcholai coal power plant.
UNP parliamentarian Harin Fernando said that out of the US$ 1.3 billion estimated cost for the 1st phase of the Norochcholai coal power plant, US$ 300 million had been taken as commission.
While noting that the actual cost of the project is US$ 1 billion, the MP explained that the Chinese who had built the plant are now refusing the government's sell back offer due to the additional amount of US$ 300 million paid as commission monies being added to the project cost.
"The government claimed the cost was US$ 1.3 billion. However, the Chinese have said otherwise, in their refusal to accept the ownership of the plant. This means US$ 300 million was pocketed as commission by those involved in the project," Fernando concluded.
Meanwhile, addressing a media briefing Friday, the Kalutara district UNP parliamentarian Ajith P. Perera said the government has borrowed a huge sum with a high interest from the Exim Bank of China to fund the Norochcholai coal power plant.
As a result of obtaining the funds from China, the plant was built with the Chinese technology and labor but the country did not receive the expected results.
MP Perera, while noting that the government is about to launch the Phase 2 and 3 of the Norochcholai plant at a cost of US$ 891 million, questioned the government who will assume the responsibility for the project and under what conditions.
He said that the former Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka opposed getting loans from China's Exim Bank and the conditions set for such a loan.
He accused the government of borrowing money from China with high interest and now, being unable to pay back the loans, is planning to transfer the plant to the Chinese under conditions detrimental to the public to avoid the economic crisis created by the massive loans.
The legislator charged that due to the former minister's opposition to the government's move to hand over the plant to China, Ranawaka was removed and appointed a minister who is completely ignorant of the subject as Power and Energy Minister.
He further said that government is planning to do the same with the proposed Sampur power plant in the Eastern Province and that is why the Indian company NTPC, which had discussions with the government for years to build the plant, has backed away from the project.