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Monday, June 27, 2022

If samples were tested before fertiliser left China Sri Lanka would have saved USD 6.9 million!

No sample test was done before the Chinese fertilizer ship was imported to Sri Lanka

The National Fertilizer Secretariat does not know the details of those who recommended the import of Chinese organic fertilizer

Who is responsible for the $ 6.9 million loss to Sri Lanka that was paid for the fertilizer ship?

Information provided by the National Fertilizer Secretariat (NFS) under the Right to Information Act, confirms that the NFS was not aware or did not want to disclose who approved the purchase of  20,000 metric tonnes of organic fertiliser from Qindao Seawin Biotech Group of China. The documents received from NFS also confirm that samples of the fertiliser had not been tested prior to the shipment leaving China.
The ship ‘Hippo Spirit’ carrying the 20,000 metric tons of fertiliser valued at 12.9 billion rupees sailed from China on 22nd September 2021.

It is imperative that the National Fertiliser Secretariat should get samples of the fertiliser to be imported tested and approved by the National Plant Quarantine Service.  Documents show that the samples were received for testing on 23rd September 2021 a day after the ‘Hippo Spirit’ sailed from China.
Based on the results of the samples tested released on 1st October 2021, Sri Lankan experts had warned that the organic manure tested contained harmful bacteria and microorganisms, including arginia, which if used would ruin Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector. Reports obtained under the Right to Information Act confirm the above.
On 22nd October 2022, the day the ‘Hippo Spirit’ was due in Colombo the Ceylon Fertilizer Company Limited obtained an Enjoining Order from the Commercial High Court against the Chinese company, Qingdao Seawin Biotech, its local agent and the People’s Bank.

The order prevented the People’s Bank from making any payment under the Letter of Credit opened in favour of the Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Company Ltd.Subsequent tests carried out on samples obtained from the fertiliser on board the ‘Hoppo Spirit’ reconfirmed that the fertiliser continued harmful bacteria. As a result, the Sri Lanka government were compelled to suspend the fertiliser order.

 The Chinese Ambassador informed the Government of Sri Lanka in writing that the Chinese company refused to accept the test results issued by the National Plant Quarantine Service of Sri Lanka and reiterated that the decision taken by the Government of Sri Lanka had caused serious injustice to the Chinese company.

Nevertheless, under pressure, the Sri Lankan government were compelled to settle 70% of the full value of the shipment. 
As a result of not following the correct procedure, the People’s Bank was compelled to pay USD 6.9 million to Quindao Seawin Biotech Group of China as a settlement and the fertiliser was sent back to China.
It is high time that the National Fertiliser Secretariat reveal the person or persons who were behind the deal with Quindao Seawin Biotech Group of China as they together with public officials who held office at the should be held accountable for the loss incurred by the people.

By Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi

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