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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, March 25, 2005

Post tsunami phase inflationary says Treasury Secy

Daily Mirror: 24/03/2005, By Sunimalee Dias
Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera on Tuesday admitted that higher inflation in the country was possible in the aftermath of the tsunami devastation and emphasised that stablising macro economic framework and reducing poverty were important.

Addressing a panel discussion on the "Tsunami Disaster and the Recovery Process; Critical Issues Facing Sri Lanka" organised by the Foundation for Co-Existence, Dr. Jayasundera said that initially it was vital that they take stock of what has happened, and what needs to be carried out and the recovery process to be adopted.

He noted that although there would be no immediate set back on the economy this year with a near 6% growth, there was a possibility of inflation in the aftermath of the tsunami.

He pointed out that economy of the country was altogether in a "difficult" situation even prior to the tsunami and that the initial support from the donor community upon request was very much forthcoming.

Dr. Jayasundera said the government made a request for debt relief arrangement and plan for a period of three to five years. This has already been realized for the first year this year and observed that further bilateral discussion need to be taken up in this regard as well, he said.

Speaking on the North and East he said that "even donors have recognized that this is one area where the suffering from the prolonged conflict" while in the rest of the south of the country, poverty was evident. As such Dr. Jayasundera said with the displacement of families and the weakened infrastructure, they have held discussions with development partners to help resolve poverty in these areas.

Finance Ministry Secretary also noted, the rest of the country must continue to strive in their work "buoyantly". He said that they would be seeking aid through consultations and discussions with their business partners towards this end. "Because of the large number of donors involved the fair degree of coordination in terms of programmes is also a critical element," Dr. Jayasundera said at the Foundation for Co-Existence panel discussion chaired by Dr. Kumar Rupasinghe.

Treasury Secretary also observed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had expressed the fact that "confidence remains high by the donors."

TAFREN Director General Mano Tittawella speaking at the discussion said that the rescue and relief phase was conducted effectively and that presently they were on the reconstruction stage.

He noted that TAFREN had over the last six weeks conducted discussions with relevant parties in a bid to finalise a document relating to the final structure of the planning and implementation process of reconstruction.

Mr. Tittawella said that there was a need to work out how the action plan has be taken up and that the multi donor task force that has come up with the implementation aspect of the plan.

In this regard, he pointed out “if we do achieve this we would be ahead of other countries and I would probably think Sri Lanka is slightly ahead of other countries.”

He noted that without effective planning the obtaining of donor assistance would be “flawed” and asserted, “bad coordination creates a significant amount of overlaps.”

While appreciating the support and assistance received so far for the purpose of rehabilitation and recovery he asserted that there was a need to look at the realist sense of the donor’s pledges.

Mr. Tittawella said that the multi lateral and bilateral organizations and the NGOs and other sections of society must have their own standards and put this into practice through proper implementation for reconstruction.

In this respect, he said they were working out with the donors on the pledges made by them to be realized and ensure that these are targeted towards set projects.

He noted that there would be time lag in delivering the goods as per the construction of houses it would take about one to six months, around two years to construct roads and around three years for the reconstruction of the railway lines.

Director General of the Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (RRR) Harim Peiris said, “as a nation we can be proud of what we’ve been doing.”

He pointed that there are valid issues that needs to be taken into account at this stage, such as consulting, transparency and the role of the NGOs. “Ultimately this must be recognized although you may have a divergence of opinion” he added.

Speaking on the situation in the North and East, Mr. Peiris said that at the time the tsunami hit this was an area already devastated by the conflict and was having a “vulnerable community”. In this context firstly the government has continued their post conflict and rehabilitation programmes which account for about Rs. 500 million per year.”

He pointed out that some of those details that have been speculated concerning the joint mechanism between the government and the LTTE, it must be noted that the present situation of the talks on this subject is that they are “proceeding smoothly.”

Mr. Peiris said that they were optimistic that it would conclude well and bring about a working system together for the establishment of the joint mechanism.

He asserted that there was no truth to the fact that no one knows of what is happening in the North and East and especially in the uncleared areas regarding rehabilitation and reconstruction, as there is full access to everyone to these areas.

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