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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. 

Saturday, May 14, 2005

World Bank warns of uncertainty over tsunami aid pledges to Sri Lanka

The Island: 13/05/2005"

The World Bank said Wednesday it was uncertain Sri Lanka would get the two billion dollars pledged for post-tsunami rebuilding as donors appeared to be backing away from earlier commitments.

"Although the levels of commitment are substantial, there remains some uncertainty regarding the timing and magnitude of actual assistance," the World Bank said in a report Wednesday ahead of a crucial donor meeting next week.

The Sri Lankan government was known to be weak in implementing work and tsunami reconstruction would be "challenging", the report said.

Sri Lanka has spent nearly 300 million dollars of its own money and has received 130 million dollars in private donations to care for as many as one million people affected by the December 26 tsunamis that killed nearly 31,000 people.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga will inaugurate a two-day meeting Monday in Colombo between represntatives of the World Bank and international donors on funding and coordination for rebuilding projects.

The cost of rebuilding ports, houses and businesses destroyed by the tsunamis is estimated at 1.5 to 1.6 billion.

Kumaratunga, who is pushing for a joint deal with Tamil rebels on tsunami aid distribution despite opposition from a coalition partner that may derail her government, said recently that the country had not received "even five cents" of pledged aid.

A deal with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is necessary because several of the donors are legally forbidden from giving aid directly to the rebels who hold much of the territory severely affected by the tsunamis.

Several countries have urged Sri Lanka to agree to a joint mechanism on tsunami aid and Norway is acting as a mediator in the faltering peace process between the two sides.

The meeting is aimed at coordinating 30 bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and about 200 local and international non-governmental agencies involved in the rebuilding of the country.

The World Bank said Sri Lanka is also likely to fall short of a central bank forecast of of 6.0 percent economic growth in 2005. It estimates the economy will grow 5.0 percent this year, compared to a growth rate of 5.4 percent in 2004.

Large purchases of food and construction materials were also expected to push consumer prices this year with the World Bank estimating that inflation would jump to about 12 percent, up from a pre-tsunami estimate of 10 to 11 percent.

It also warned of impacts on the country’s budget from rising oil prices as well as heavy expenditure on the imports needed to carry out tsunami reconstruction work. (AFP)


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