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Lanka Coal to get new Chairman this week

 A new chairman to the Lanka Coal Company is expected to be appointed within this week, Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary Suren Batagoda said.

A new board had been appointed but it has not been able to take any action as the appointment of a chairman has been pending since the old board and chairman were removed on January 17.

The change in management came amidst allegations that the controversial coal tender purchases in 2016 resulted in the government accruing a loss of Rs 4,145 million that year.

The losses revealed through a report prepared by the Auditor General had also recommended that the responsible officers be taken to task, Batagoda said.

Thus far, three separate committees have been appointed to investigate into the coal purchases.

“I have appointed a preliminary investigations officer in accordance with the Establishment Code. He will investigate into whether there are any grounds for disciplinary action”, he said.

“The Minister has also appointed a three member committee to look into who the responsible officers are . In addition, Cabinet has appointed a committee comprising three Secretaries headed by Sudharma Karunaratne (Secretary to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development to find out whether the coal purchasing formula was changed,”the Ministry Secretary added.

The two reports from within the Ministry are to be sent to Batagoda who is then expected to direct the Board to take necessary action. Cabinet will take a decision on its own committee report. Action however has been slow with no new Chairman to make the decisions at the Board. An additional secretary from the Ministry is in the meantime filling the vacancy.

The Audit report of the Auditor General had also questioned the conduct of the Lanka Coal Company over the past years and had called on the authorities to study whether it is necessary to continue with it.

Joint Opposition MPs in the meantime have also asked that the FCID investigate the illegal coal tender purchases. COPE last month announced that they would look into the coal controversy.

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