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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, December 24, 2005

Sri Lanka draws less than a tenth of tsunami loans

APF: 16/12/2005"

Sri Lanka as of end-September had utilised less than a tenth of the loans and a quarter of the grants offered by foreign donors since last year's unprecedented tsunami disaster, a top official said.

The director general of state accounts, P. A. Pematilaka, Friday said the government drew only 393.7 million dollars, or 25 percent of the 1,562.9 million dollars pledged for tsunami reconstruction in the medium term.

Out of 700.3 million dollars made available to the country by way of concessionary loans, only 66.66 million dollars, or less than 10 percent of the available funds, had been drawn, he said.

"We are getting figures from all agencies that are involved in tsunami reconstruction and these are the figures we have come up with as at the end of September," Pematilaka said.

He said the tsunami aid utilisation compared with a 20 percent national average for absorbing overall foreign aid amounting to about a billion dollars annually.

An independent think tank earlier this month asked the government to rein in the plethora of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in tsunami reconstruction.

The December 26 tsunami killed over 31,000 people and displaced nearly a million in Sri Lanka. Some 250,000 people still live in cramped transitional homes, despite the international aid pledges topping 3.2 billion dollars over a period of three to four years.

Nearly 300 aid agencies capitalised on a huge international outpouring of sympathy for tsunami survivors and collected millions of dollars to rebuild and restore livelihoods in devastated coastlines of Sri Lanka.

The Institute of Policy Studies said the government needs to streamline the NGOs' spending spree as it involved waste.

Sri Lanka's tsunami reconstruction costs have also jumped by about 60 percent and the island is in danger of running short of funds even if the pledged aid is fully utilised, reconstruction officials warned earlier this month.

The tsunami damage to infrastructure was estimated at a billion dollars, but the replacement cost is estimated at between 1.5 to 1.6 billion dollars, according to a joint study by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, in January.

Sri Lanka is also battling corruption and inefficiencies in distributing the billions of dollars pledged, the country's auditor general said in a recent report.

President Mahinda Rajapakse who came to power after the November 17 election set up a new authority to co-ordinate all government tsunami-related relief operations.


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