SL sans mechanism to identify foreign blacklisted companies.
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW):State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya yesterday admitted that the Ministry of Finance lacks a mechanism to identify internationally blacklisted companies that submit tenders to secure Government projects in Sri Lanka.
Responding to questions posed by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Buddhika Pathirana on the tender granted to Madras Security Printers to print revenue stickers for bottles of alcohol, the State Minister said the company was chosen by the Cabinet Procurement Committee based on the Technical Committee Report.
The country is about to re-run a tender process for its national digital ID, after the company winning the first contract bid, Madras Security Printers (MSP), was disqualified. The first tender process was allegedly manipulated to favor MSP.
The Ministry also recently called for a tender to print 5 million national ID cards. Sri Lanka introduced fingerprint scans for passports with machine readable zones to support ICAO biometric comparisons back in 2015.
Despite now being revealed as an internationally blacklisted company in several countries, including Sudan, Kenya, and Liberia, for allegations and incidents of malpractice the State Minister said that Sri Lanka lacks a legal mechanism to probe into their backgrounds.
“This is why, on several occasions, including in Parliament, we emphasised the infiltration of liquor bottles with counterfeit revenue stickers into the Sri Lankan market. Unfortunately, our concerns were met with scepticism.
The question arises: How did counterfeit stickers end up in the possession of alcohol companies? It is either the Department of Excise or the printing company responsible for the stickers that must account for their distribution,” he pointed out.
The MP said however no action has been taken against the company or those responsible for the incident yet. “The Government must focus not on increasing taxes but rather collecting taxes due,” he noted.
In response, the State Minister of Finance said the Criminal Investigation Department has launched an investigation into the allegations while the officials of relevant agencies are being transferred every six months and spot checks are being carried out which has increased revenue since.