Local agency that ordered contaminated fertilizer readying for next shipment!

The local agency that imported 96,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer containing harmful bacteria from a Chinese company is preparing to import fertilizer for the next cultivation season as well, Sri Lanka Mirror learnt.

So far, it has not been revealed whether they would import fertilizer again from China or from India.

Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd General Manager and Chief Technology Officer Anna Song earlier said a shipment of 99,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer will be brought to Sri Lanka by four ships based on the agreement signed on October 26, 2020. Qingdao Seawin Biotech Company dispatched the first shipment of fertilizer from China to Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, former President’s Secretary Gamini Senarath admitted at that time that he was related to one of the Directors of the company’s local agency.

They are preparing to re-import a new stock of fertilizer in this manner when Sri Lanka has lost USD 6.9 million by releasing funds to the Chinese fertilizer ship without any security or assurance. The Auditor General has also recommended that the lost amount be recovered by taking legal action against those who are responsible.

The Auditor General has also informed to blacklist the fertilizer supplier company and take legal action for causing a loss to the State by not providing the required fertilizer for the 2020-21 Maha Season as per the agreement, even after obtaining funds.

The Auditor General has issued these recommendations by releasing a special audit report on the procurement process of 96,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizers.

The Auditor General has indicated in the report that there was an attempt to release fertilizers with harmful bacteria, which are not biocided and do not have a recommended type of agrochemical to suppress them, into Sri Lanka.

The audit report said that had this fertilizer shipment entered into the country, it could have had a severe impact on the crops with economic value in Sri Lanka. It also states that a loss has been caused by failing to provide the necessary fertilizer for paddy cultivation in the Maha Season of 2021-22.

The Auditor General said that the entire amount paid for the unsupplied fertilizer stock has been lost.

The report made allegations against the members of the Technical Evaluation Committee, the members of the Procurement Committee, the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Additional Secretary and a committee consisting of officers appointed by the Ministry Secretary.

The audit report said the procurement committee appointed by the Cabinet had recommended the purchase of 96,000 metric tons of fertilizer from the Chinese Company, and that a Cabinet paper (FO /61/2021) was submitted by the Minister of Agriculture on August 5, 2021 seeking permission for Ceylon Fertilizer Company Limited to purchase 60 per cent and Colombo Commercial Fertilizers Ltd to purchase 40 per cent of the imported fertilizer.

The Cabinet had approved the Cabinet paper on August 18, 2021.

The Chinese ship carrying the organic fertilizer shipment containing harmful bacteria reached the Sri Lankan waters on September 23, 2021.

Subsequently, a controversy arose as organic fertilizers that were not sterile could not be brought into the country according to the Plant Protection Act and accordingly, the fertilizer stock was not allowed to be brought into the country.

The Attorney General also had to intervene to resolve this controversy.

This Chinese vessel, which was anchored in the Sri Lankan waters for several months, left only after the relevant payment was made.

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