Tender delay to be probed | Sunday Observer

Tender delay to be probed

Agriculture State Minister Wasantha Aluvihare told the Sunday Observer that he has received information to point out that the delay in calling for tenders would have been a deliberate act and would be investigated immediately. “The National Fertilizer Secretariat must take full responsibility for the shortage that was created,” the state minister said.

Speaking further the state minister was of the view that the government will investigate if there were attempts by certain officials to create an artificial fertilizer shortage to bring negative publicity to the government in the face of a crucial election.

The first tender to bring down 72,000 MT of fertilizer for the Maha cultivation was cancelled due to irregularities. The National Fertiliser Secretariat had wasted 45 days before the second tender was floated, leading to the crisis and the farmers taking to streets in protest.

The state minister said the shipment of 40,000 MT of Urea from Pakistan had already arrived and by Friday they had issued fertiliser to 80% of the farmers.

All 550 Govijana Seva Centres island-wide have been sent the required stocks of Urea by Friday but still the minister said he is receiving complaints that some of the farmers have not received their fertiliser quotas. “I am ashamed to say that this includes Matale, my own electorate. Some farmer’s accounts had not received state allocated funds to buy fertiliser on time,” he explained.

It has also been reported that three Govi-jana Seva Associations in Dambulla; Mahasen Govi Sanvidanaya, Lenawa Kumbukkanwala Govi Sanvidanaya and Farmer Associations in Kandalama had not received their funds to buy fertilizer. In addition Bellan Oya and Atora Hena Govijana Sanvidana in Sigiriya too have not received their funds by last Friday to pay for their fertiliser.

The government is expected to discuss the probability of a low harvest but will not discuss about any compensation plans yet. “It is too early to plan that now,” he said.

The government allocated Rs. 5.2 billion as compensation for nearly 530,000 farmers whose crops were damaged due to drought and subsequent floods in nine provinces last Maha season. “This is the biggest allocation in the history by a government,” a senior official at the Agriculture Ministry said.