The rejection to accept a consignment of organic fertilizer contaminated with hazardous substances shipped to Sri Lanka by the Quingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd. of China was purely a trade issue between the said company and the Ministry of Agriculture of Sri Lanka and as such it will not affect the close and cordial relations that existed for centuries between the two countries at any cost, Plantation Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said.
The decision to refuse the stock of organic fertilizer polluted with Erwinia and other harmful microorganisms and pathogens and the ban to unload the same from the ship Hippo Spirit at the Port of Colombo was solely taken on comprehensive laboratory tests carried out by highly qualified Sri Lanka scientists of the state-owned National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) he added.
“The payment for the undelivered cargo has been suspended by the People’s Bank on a Court of Appeal order. No one is supposed to ignore a ruling given by one of the highest courts of the country. Therefore, it is quite obvious that the government or the Agriculture Ministry had nothing to do with the ‘stop of payments’ by the bank,’ Minister Dr. Pathirana stressed.
Minister Dr. Pathirana also dismissed flatly the allegation that there was a major fraud involving the spot purchase of a stock of 100,000 litres of ‘Nano Nitrogen Liquid Fertilizer’ (NNLF) from an Indian company.
He told the media that the Agriculture Ministry and the CID had already launched investigations of the allegations levelled by the media and the opposition.
Minister, Dr. Pathirana in response to a journalist who raised the issue said all charges levelled were unfounded and misleading and as such truth about the transactions will be exposed before long.
The journalist, quoting the opposition, questioned the Minister as to why the government allegedly paid Rs. 5,230 when the quoted price of a litre of NNLF by the Indian supplier was Rs. 1,302.18. Why a private company was suddenly registered in an ad-hoc manner a few days prior to the deal exclusively for this transaction alone? Why only a stock of 25,000 litres of NNLF was delivered when the purchasing order was for 100,000 litres and why only Rs. 90 million was paid when the bill quoted by the supplier for the consignment was Rs. 290 million? Which is a clear sign of an underhand deal defrauding millions of rupees of public money. Why a private company was entrusted to import NNLF when two state-owned commercial ventures, Lakpohora and Colombo Commercial Fertilizers Ltd. are doing the job?
“I don’t see that there has been any fraud in this transaction. The CID and the Agriculture Ministry will find the truth behind this allegation before long after a transparent probe. The importation of NNLF is a short-term solution to the demand of farmers and tea growers for chemical fertilizer,” Minister, Dr. Pathirana emphasised.