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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. 

Monday, August 21, 2006

INGOs involved in tsunami reconstruction would be called before EU Parliamentary hearing - EU Development Committee representative

Daily News: 21/08/2006" Manjula Fernando

COLOMBO: The European Union Parliament's Overseas Development Committee Coordinator Niranjan Deva Aditya said that International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) involved in the Sri Lanka tsunami reconstruction would be called before the EU Parliament in Brussels for a public hearing.

Aditya who is also a Rapporteur of the EU Development Budget which oversees aid for developing nations and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, met President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday to discuss allegations that several NGOs and INGOs have swindled massive tsunami funds allocated for reconstruction.

"Over $ 4.8 million was raised in the EU by these organisations mainly for Indonesia and Sri Lanka," Aditya told the Daily News, adding that he observed that the housing projects in Banda Aceh, was progressing smoothly during his recent visit to Indonesia.

"The Indonesian reconstruction drive is going on well. 68,000 houses have been built out of the required total of 140,000 houses," he added.

"But I was shocked to hear that only 1200 houses have been built in Sri Lanka. Are these allegations true?" The EU Development Committee representative said he expected at least 60,000 houses would have been completed in Sri Lanka by now. "I can't believe it. I want to get to the bottom of it."

If he finds that the allegations are true he will arrange the public inquiry in Brussels at which the INGOs will be required to answer the allegations against them.

A report on the commitments of INGOs and their progress have been requested by the EU representative through RADA and the Central Bank."I will be leaving the country in two days time and hope to take the report with me when I leave," he said.

He also said that INGO Heads, representatives of an International auditing firm and the Media would be among the invitees at the inquiry to be held in Brussels.

If the allegations are proven, the organisations are definitely going to have a `tough time in future with regard to their fund raising' in the EU and elsewhere.

"Mr and Mrs. John who contributed $ 100 would want to know what happened to their money," he pointed out adding that all international NGOs, World Vision, Oxfam, Red Cross and Save the Children etc. would be called to be present at the inquiry.

Aditya who had been meeting regularly the INGO heads, Ambassadors of tsunami affected countries for the past two years in a bid to monitor the tsunami reconstruction activities said the financial handling of these organisations should be posted on the Internet for everyone to have access.

Initially, 23 international NGOs pledged to construct 66,811 houses for tsunami affected in Sri Lanka. However ultimately only 16,487 actual building agreements were signed, Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA) statistics revealed.

According to the Central Bank's Bank Supervision Department, 256 NGOs had received donations and other funds amounting to Rs. 40 billion by way of credits to their accounts from foreign and local sources during year 2005 alone.

It has been revealed that nearly 79 per cent of the funds received in the bank accounts of all NGOs during 2005 had been withdrawn, but according to RADA only 1,232 houses have been completed upto now.

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