MINISTER: I’LL CRUSH KIB-TEK ‘CORRUPTION’
ECONOMY and Energy Minister Erhan Arıklı has vowed to crush “corruption” within the Cyprus Turkish Electricity Authority (Kıb-Tek) with a “sledgehammer”.
The tentacles of profiteers have “infiltrated” all state institutions “like an octopus” he said.
Dr Arıklı, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, made the comments as he revealed that Kıb-Tek’s funds are being “siphoned off” to the tune of 300 million TL year and that he had prevented further losses of some $2.2 million by stopping a previous tender for fuel oil, which is burned to generate electricity.
Speaking to Cyprus Today’s sister newspaper Kıbrıs this week, Dr Arıklı said that sealed bids for a new Fuel Transport Tender to supply around 220,000 tonnes of liquid fuel – equivalent to a year’s supply – had brought in offers of $32.4 per tonne from a company called Sideral Lines Ltd and $14 per tonne from Wideline Reklam Hiz. Ltd.
The tender has not been finalised and the Central Tender Commission will make its decision after “weighing all the options” Dr Arıklı said.
“We saved [Kıb-Tek] from a great loss by halting the previous tender,” he told Kıbrıs.
“The bidding [for the previous tender] started at $32 [per tonne] and increased by [$2] each time to reach $38.
“If we are paying a higher rate with a difference of around $10, this would mean that the institution would be paying around an additional $2.2 million. This overpayment would be coming directly out of the people’s pockets.”
Noting that 220,000 tonnes of fuel is transported annually, Dr Arıklı said that “even one dollar” in the price per tonne would “make a huge difference”.
Dr Arıklı explained that due to “address delivery” tenders, Kıb-Tek is constantly paying high fees for counterfeit goods that have been sold to them as authentic products. He said that in addition to paying high rates for these fake goods, use of these products for generators was causing considerable damage.
Three generators at the Teknecik power plant with a total value of around $20-25 million do not work due to either lubricants or the use of counterfeit spare parts the Deputy PM stated. He pointed out that the bill for repairing the generators is footed by the public.
As reflected in the Public Accounts’ reports, the minister said that “hundreds of goods” sold to Kıb-Tek as being produced in Turkey had actually been made in China.
Dr Arıklı explained that the Financial Police have not yet completed their case files regarding the incident in question, and that they are expected to be sent to the Attorney General’s Office in the next few weeks.
Stating that the process is moving forward very slowly, he said: “Maybe they are waiting for me to be overthrown so that they continue to rob the institution, as they have been.”
Kıb-Tek has not been able to invest in infrastructure, such as power cables and transformers, as cash collected is being poured into the pockets of “embezzlers” Dr Arıklı said.
The public needs to “wake up” and consumers should “stand up against this kind of profiteering” he stressed.
“It has been claimed [by the energy workers’ union El-Sen] that the institution [Kıb-Tek] suffered a loss because I cancelled a $38 [per tonne] contract, and instead purchased fuel from a government agency in Turkey for $34 [per tonne].
“They are trying to distort to the public the fact that I turned the $4 difference into a profit rather than a loss.”
Pointing out that it is “not just two to three people” who have been responsible for years of ongoing “profiteering and corruption” in Kıb-Tek, Dr Arıklı continued: “They have infiltrated all the government institutions like an octopus.”
The minister, who is also the leader of the Rebirth Party (YDP), argued that various “obstacles” and business “slowdowns” had spread to the processes at “every level of the state” and that there were efforts to make the public “forget about incidents of profiteering and corruption”.
“Unfortunately, there is such a system and order,” he added. “They are trying to take me down by placing an opponent in my way. But despite this, my members will protect me and starting on Monday I will continue to go after the profiteers even more fiercely and aggressively.
“I will come down on them like a sledgehammer.”
A Kıbrıs editorial published in Thursday’s edition, which referred to Dr Arıklı’s comments about corruption and the 300 million TL a year lost by Kıb-Tek, said: “The person who has said [this] is not just someone off the street. Who is he? The Economy and Energy Minister Erhan Arıklı.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] the bid envelopes for the Fuel Transport Tender of the [Kıb-Tek] were opened, revealing Sideral Lines Ltd’s proposal of $32.4 [per tonne] and Wideline Reklam Hiz. Ltd’s submission of $14 [per tonne]. Once the bids were disclosed, Erhan Arıklı’s voice got louder.
“Noting that 220,000 tonnes of fuel is transported annually, Arıklı said that even one dollar would therefore make a huge difference based on this.
“There is a saying ‘It’s wrong to count one’s chickens before they hatch’. It is also a mistake to draw conclusions based on preconceptions.
“What is more important than the figures of the North Cyprus tender are the figures that will follow the tender.
“Even without the examples of the Kıb-Tek tenders, it has been the case with other larger tenders that a lower proposal was submitted and accepted, then stating that it was the standard operating procedure the bid would then be increased greatly.
“The disparity between the two bids for the Kıb-Tek fuel tender is astonishing.
“The minister announced that the lowest bid was $14, and the highest was $32.4. The difference of $18.4 makes the higher bid more than twice as high. Moreover, based on its properties, it is easy to find out the average purchase cost of the fuel.
“There are two proposals that are miles apart from each other. With careful calculating of a tender this size, the difference between the bids should only be one to two dollars.
“After the tender if Kıb-Tek were to increase its fuel storage capacity and use larger tankers with more capacity per tonne to ship the fuel, the company that won the bid could boost its profit. However this is not as easy as it sounds.
“If an person from the outside were to look at both of the bids that were submitted, they would say that one of them is not realistic. Why? Because there should not be such a large difference between the bids on two products that have the same features.
“It would not be wrong to say ‘there is a serious showdown in Kıb-Tek or over Kıb-Tek’. We have not seen the end of large-scale showdowns in this country. Why?
“Because if this is investigated from all sides and the facts come to light, many flashy politicians will end up with their necks on the line.
“Still, it is possible to say we have reached the end of the road since a light has been shone on the shady affairs at Kıb-Tek.
“It is both interesting and very ambitious that, in connection with the Kıb-Tek tenders, Erhan Arıklı will be running against Bertan Zaroğlu in the election for the presidency of the YDP at the YDP assembly. Kıb-Tek will also be discussed at the YDP assembly.”