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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, March 11, 2006

Japan tells Sri Lanka: Don't take aid for granted

ReliefWeb - Document Preview: Source: Reuters Foundation
Date: 02 Mar 2006

COLOMBO, March 2 (Reuters) - Japan warned Sri Lanka on Thursday not to take hundreds of millions of dollars' in aid for granted, saying future assistance will depend on the government tackling policy inconsistencies and reform delays.
Akio Suda, Japan's ambassador to Sri Lanka, said his government was concerned at how Sri Lanka has squandered years of potential development through slow decision making, and was concerned about the island's budget deficit. "I hope that the Sri Lankan government and the people have a clear understanding of the significance of Japan's continuing development assistance to this country," Suda told a news conference to showcase Japan's aid to Sri Lanka.
"At the same time I hope that the Sri Lankan government and people do not take it for granted."
Japan is Sri Lanka's biggest development aid donor, spearheading a consortium of donor nations which pledged $4.5 billion in aid in 2003 to help the island rebuild infrastructure ravaged by a two-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels now in limbo because of a ceasefire.
In the wake of Asia's December 2004 tsunami, Japan has continued to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars worth of grant aid and loans to Sri Lanka, despite lurches in a peace process that came to the brink of collapse in January.
"Sri Lanka has lost many years in its development process by frequently reviewing and changing once-decided plans of important development projects," Suda said, underscoring how it took 14 years for work to finally start on a major hydropower plant planned in 1991.
Donors and aid agencies privately voice frustration at bureaucratic delays in securing approval for projects, hampered by frequent government and cabinet changes, particularly given the world pledged $3.3 billion to Sri Lanka to rebuild after the tsunami.
Some aid Japan earmarked to help the government restructure the state's loss-making Ceylon Electricity Board actually expired because the government failed to decide on reforms.
"The Japanese government is ready to continue its development assistance to Sri Lanka ... It depends, however, on whether you can carry on a consistent development policy, necessary reform and sound financial management," Suda said, referring to a budget deficit expected to widen in 2005 due to post-tsunami expenditure.
"And (it depends on) whether the government, the LTTE and all other parties can work closer to realise the non-violence process of peace."

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Private tsunami donations top Rs. 26 b

SAMN: 02/03/2006"

Central Bank disclosed Wednesday that the private tsunami relief donations as at end January 2006 was Rs. 26.5 billion. It said that the funds had been received by the Government, non-Governmental Organisations and others in Sri Lanka as private foreign and local donations through banking channels towards tsunami disaster relief. This includes Rs. 3,356.3 million received by the Government mainly through the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and two state commercial banks.
The Central Bank will continue to update this information monthly.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Controlling Corruption: A Parliamentarians Handbook

Governance Development Gateway: Controlling Corruption rests on the 1998 Laurentian Seminar participant's assertion that the institution of parliament and parliamentarians are crucial in serving as a bridge between state and society and in implementing and/or strengthening the good governance values of accountability, transparency and participation. It also claims that parliaments play a key and a leadership role in encouraging good governance and, furthermore, that parliaments and parliamentarians need to work regionally and internationally in order to effect change. August 2005. PDF, 42 pp.

Download the report

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Tsunami bribery probe in East

Daily News: 02/03/2006" by Ranil Wijayapala

The Commission to Investigate Allegations on Bribery and Corruption will expedite the hearing of complaints from tsunami affected people in Batticaloa and Ampara districts against corrupt Government officers.

Director Investigations of the Bribery Commission SP Neville Guruge told the Daily News that Commission officials headed by its Chairman Justice Ameer Ismail and Secretary P.A. Abeysinghe toured the Tsunami hit Batticaloa and Ampara districts from February 26.

Two investigation teams from the Commission who visited the area will investigate complaints received from residents.

"We received 10 to 12 complaints from tsunami-hit people in Kalmunai during our visit on February 27 and six to eight complaints Akkaraipattu residents," SP Guruge said.

Most complaints were against Gramasevaka officers and Fisheries officials who had solicited money from tsunami affected people to provide them with the Government approved subsidies.

"We also received complaints about officers who had taken bribes to provide subsidies for those not affected by the tsunami," he said.

"We will investigate these complaints and bring corrupt officers to book," SP Guruge said.

In December 2005, bribery sleuths arrested one Fisheries Inspector in Pottuvil who had solicited Rs.50,000 from a tsunami affected person to provide with him a boat.

The Bribery Commission will educate court staff and lawyers in Kalmunai on bribery cases. The Commission officers also briefed more than 250 Police officers at the Ampara Town Hall on February 26 on inquiries related to bribery and corruption, SP Guruge added.

"The Commission also conducted a seminar for the court staff and the lawyers in Akkaraipattu on February 28," he added.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

S.Lanka tsunami-displaced squat to demand new homes

Reuters: 27/02/2006"

About 1,000 Sri Lankans who lost their homes to Asia's tsunami have overrun government land in the island's east and vowed on Monday to stay until they are built new homes from more than $3 billion in aid the state received.

Police said the group had put up shelters in the grounds of the divisional secretariat at Kalmunai in the eastern district of Ampara, which was ravaged by the Dec. 2004 tsunami.

"The protesters are demanding a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse and the government agent in the area is making arrangements to set up a meeting," said Nihal Karunaratne, Deputy Inspector-General of Police.

Residents staged a general shutdown in the area on Monday in a show of support for those displaced, who said they had nowhere else to move to.

"We were living in temporary shelters put up in a private block of land for the past year, but now the owner asked for the land we have no other place to go," said 35-year-old fisherman M.H.A. Wahid by telephone from Kalmunai.

"The government received billions of rupees as aid but we are still in welfare centres without a house," he added. "All we want is for someone to take notice of our problem."

The tsunami killed more than 35,000 people along Sri Lanka's shores, wiping out entire towns and villages, and more than a year on, the government and aid agencies have built only a fraction of the number of permanent houses needed for tens of thousands of displaced survivors.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Komari’s miracle worker: big heart and iron will

Sunday Island: 26/02/2006" By Namini Wijedasa

Frank Seevaratnam left Sri Lanka thirty years ago with a wife, a daughter and three pounds ten in his pocket.

Back then, the family had vowed to stay away from this turbulent little island that never seemed to get it right. Canada promised more stability, better living and less racial tension. The Seevaratnams set up home in Toronto and eventually became immensely successful.

For three decades, Frank avoided Sri Lanka. In December 2004, however, his resolve melted. He and his wife, Pushpa, were holidaying in Cuba when they learnt of the Asian tsunami. Pictures flashed across television screens, depicting death, destruction and consummate grief.

Today, even Christmas can’t take 71-year-old Frank home to Canada. He hasn’t seen his wife or grandchildren in months. Living in the eastern village of Komari since May, last year, he resolutely fights red tape, local politics and nagging insect-bite allergies to resurrect a devastated community that few of us care about.

"I didn’t go," he says, when asked whether he had taken a planned Christmas break in Toronto. "I wanted to see this through."

You couldn’t get an egg or a banana in the shattered village when Frank first arrived. Unfazed, he started a model farm, bought chickens and got the people cultivating. The water was contaminated so he dug agricultural and drinking wells anew.

He opened a nursery for children of parents working at the nearby stone quarry. There was no electricity so he acquired generators. He quickly bought computers and began instructing young people while also organising English classes. He contracted a sewing teacher who trains women in dressmaking and other crafts. They are selling their wares in a shop he has opened on their behalf.

A large community and skills development centre is nearly complete and a library is already open. Job opportunities are expanding. Frank has introduced metalwork, welding, carpentry and training for electricians. Identifying musical talent in many young people, he has just bought a set of instruments and is hunting for a teacher. Cultural workshops are being planned while he also wants to create an audio studio. There is a basketball court on the cards, along with facilities for netball and volleyball. An old age home is being built, too.

Project after project is initiated and shepherded to fruition by a man who had never wanted to come back.

Frank is a post-tsunami story with a difference. There are no big, money-spinning NGOs or multilaterals involved. No fancy cars, no air-conditioned comforts, no holidays. The food Frank eats isn’t the best in town. He has no parties to attend. What he does have are personal funds and an unflagging sense of commitment. "I work all day, seven days," he says. "I’m awake till late in the night."

The tsunami had moved Frank and Pushpa deeply, he remembers: "We knew we had to do something." Along with Toronto-based friends Clement Rodrigo, Brinta Shanmugalingam and Mike Shaw, Frank set up and registered a non governmental organisation called Homes of Hope. The initial funding came from Frank and Pushpa. They scraped together their retirement savings, re-mortgaged their Toronto condominium and rushed to Sri Lanka.

Pushpa didn’t come. Neither did Frank’s daughter, Sashika. They continue to support him from home base. The money still flows from the family coffers but nobody regrets a cent that has been spent.

"When I first got to Sri Lanka, I hired a vehicle and travelled along the coast," Frank narrated. "I was looking for a place that most needed my assistance." The destruction was sweeping. Towns and villages had been flattened. Communities were in disarray. Frank was soon making tracks towards the east.

"When I reached Komari, something told me this was where I should be," he said.

There were no NGOs in Komari. The fancy cars had driven by. It was a remote, rural village with no facilities. "You had to drive for miles to get basic groceries," Frank reflected. "Perhaps that’s why nobody stopped here."

All of Komari’s bewildered families were initially huddled in tents and shelters. Frank had nowhere to stay so he, too, moved into a tent. He subsequently rented a local home that had been partly destroyed by the tsunami. After digging a well for his own use and rebuilding the damaged residence, he dived into his projects with an energy that belies his age.

Frank has always been a diligent worker. Born in Jaffna, he moved to Colombo at the age of 10 where he attended St Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. His father — a school principal — died unexpectedly when Frank was eighteen, leaving the boy to fend for himself. "I built my own future," he asserted, with quiet pride.

A Colombo Plan Common wealth Scholarship took Frank to India, where he studied chemical engineering. He returned to a government job at Paranthan Chemicals. At the age of 21, he helped erect the chemical plant at Paranthan. In 1958, he left the east due to communal strife and succeeded in clinching a competitive scholarship to Germany, where he studied plastics.

"I always studied something different," he explained. "Sri Lanka had no expertise in plastics so I branched out."

Around this time, Brown and Company invited Frank to join their plastics engineering division. Young Frank became the manager of the plastics engineering division and later succeeded an American as general manager of the Singer refrigerator division.

By 1975, he was at the top of his career. Sashika was 10 and attending school. That year, the family learned that their migration papers to Canada had been approved.

They took the plunge, going in at the deep end. "I resigned my job and went to start afresh," Frank said. Due to stringent controls on foreign exchange, he took only three pounds ten with him. "For four-and-a-half months, we struggled with nothing," he related. "We rented an apartment but didn’t have any furniture. We slept on the floor."

The break came when Frank secured the post of senior industrial engineer at Westinghouse. It was no mean achievement. He was the only visible minority in an executive position. He later rose to manager, industrial engineering, and managing director, manufacturing, industrial engineering and process engineering. He left Westinghouse after 15 years and worked as an industrial and management consultant before retiring in 2000.

Pushpa is also a leader in her chosen field, as is Sashika. The former started re-qualifying at the age of 38 — obtaining her diploma in early education, BA in Psychology (first class), Masters in Social Work (first class) and doctorate in Education. Sashika, who became the youngest judge in Canada at the age of 29, has a Masters in Political Science and a double doctorate in Law. She is the mother of two children – Natasha and Noah.

Honest and committed, Frank is driven by a genuine belief that every individual can succeed. He figures that this conviction is rooted in personal experience. Already, he has inspired young people in Komari to enrol at the Open University. His is passionate about education and vocational training. "I don’t believe in handouts," he said. "I believe in helping people to help themselves."

"Many NGOs have turned our people into beggars," he worried. "They have lost their self-respect. It is important that they get back their dignity. I’m trying to contribute towards that process."

"There is so much talent in the young people of Komari," he says, genuinely aggrieved. "What they lack is opportunity. Children in villages also deserve an equal chance at studying English. The standard of education in those schools is appalling. Teachers don’t teach. Children are encouraged to go for tuition, instead."

Life in Komari is challenging. Frank is away from friends and family. There are no creature comforts. He has had to return to basics. But he won’t budge. "My reward is in the smiles of happy children," he said. "If there is sincerity of purpose, any problem can be solved."

Is Frank worried that his money will go to waste? "My money won’t go to waste," he said. "I have understood the community. I have spoken to them. I have met their needs and they will take everything forward."

"I have not lost anything in getting these people back on their feet."

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Urban Development for whose benefit?

Daily Mirror: 01/03/2006" By Prof. S.T. Hettige

It is significant that several leading members of the present government issued congratulatory statements on the occasion of the launching of the tallest building to be constructed by the largest real estate developer in the country (Sunday times, Feb. 12, 2006) It is understandable that these political leaders are stunned by the scale of the project as their own contribution to urban development has been next to nothing.

On the other hand, political leaders responsible for urban development do not seem to realize the implications of the ever widening gap between the affluent and the impoverished parts of the city. While dozens of luxury apartment complexes are being built in the affluent part of the city, thousands of poor families are pushed into overcrowded slums and shanties in the rest of the city. The deprived communities inhabiting these disadvantaged settlements do not provide social and economic conditions desirable for human development.

Overcrowding, unhealthy environment, family disorganization, crime, violence, disputes and conflicts over resources, poverty, frequent illnesses, the lack of opportunities, etc. constitute the day to day experiences of people living in these communities. Many children growing up under such conditions do not see any prospect of breaking away from poverty and squalor. Thanks to the work of real estate developers, land prices in the city have skyrocketed over the last two decades and perhaps only those with shady incomes and expatriates can aspire to purchase urban property. Squatting is the only way in which the urban poor can acquire land within the city limits and beyond. The urban elites conveniently forget that many of their minor employees and labourers working in their sleek office complexes, factories, housing projects and rich households are resident in the disadvantaged quarters of the city and suburbs.

Squatter settlements

The proliferation of squatter settlements both within and outside city limits over the last several decades has been a major factor contributing to economic crime. While burglaries, thefts, hold – ups, extortion, etc are on the rise, the real estate developers build gated communities with twenty four hour security. Yet, only a fraction of the city and sub-urban population can have twenty four hour security. The rest of the population is constantly exposed to thieves, robbers and burglers. In some of the suburbs of Colombo, there are not many people whose houses have not been ransacked. The poor who are marginalized by the urban real estate market have moved into whatever public spaces available, often with the blessings of national and local political leaders. There are no more reservations left along rivers, canals, railway lines, etc. These are in fact public spaces that should have been developed as green belts to improve environmental quality in the city

It is obvious that the pathetic conditions prevailing in slum and squatter areas are not going to get better, unless a major urban renewal program is launched by the government with the support of the private sector, non – governmental organizations and development assistance agencies.

If the business and political leaders have any shame, or any sense of social responsibility, they should not be just marveling at the tallest building that they can put up, using the surplus they mop up from the wider population of the country, but pay equal attention to the miserable conditions under which more than half the city's population lives. As is well known, Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia not only presided over the construction of one of the tallest buildings in the world in his own capital city but ensured that real estate developers build houses for all strata of society, not just for those who have amassed wealth in a liberal economic environment. But, we of course do no have leaders of the calibre of Mahathir Mohamed in this country.. So it is at least upto the business leaders who talk so much about peace and justice to get together and establish their own "urban renewal fund" in order to divert resources to impoverished areas of the city. A fraction of their profits set aside on a regular basis can support such a programme that can be conceptualized by a group of professionals and experts. Our business leaders may not be aware that their counterparts in other countries build and maintain large public parks for the benefit of the of the wider population. A good example is the large public park in the middle of Kolkata maintained by TATA company.

Integrated urban renewal program

An integrated urban renewal programme, involving housing, community development, environmental sanitation, income generation activities and the provision of social infrastructure, if implemented in stages, the disadvantaged highbourhoods could be developed over a reasonable period of time; This would not only help solve the acute problems faced by the people living in these communities but address hidden urban problems such as crime, health hazards, and environmental degradation that affect almost everybody. On the other hand, this might be too much to expect in a country which is dominated by self – seeking businessmen, mediocre politicians and an opportunistic middle class. Instead of upgrading the impoverished quarters of the city, what is more likely to happen is the establishment of more garbage dumping sites next to the settlements of the urban poor, as we have done in the past. So, the thousands of tons of solid waste produced by the rich and the affluent living in high rise building can be conveniently deposited there, exposing thousands of innocent children, women and men in the settlements in the vicinity of garbage dumps.

As we all know now, despite so much political excitement about garbage in the recent months, business and political elites in Colombo have failed miserably to come up with any effective plan of action and the necessary resources. Unplanned developments in the city guided by naked market forces and petty political considerations have led to the disappearance of most public spaces. But, the real estate developers want us to live in a fool's paradise. They remove any trace of greenery from most of their development sites but use labels like 'green park', Kensington garden, "Green Grove," etc to advertise the building sites'. Our smart politicians have no problem with such practices.

The writer is a Professor of Sociology, at the University of Colombo

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Anomalies in tsunami aid distribution

SAMN: 25/02/2006"

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) said Friday, they have received unprecedented amount of complaints regarding malpractices in the distribution of tsunami aid across the country. The Director Investigations Neville Guruge said that most of these complaints are against Grama Niladaries, officers of divisional secretariats and some ministries such as the Fisheries Ministry.

He said most of these complaints have come from Pothuvil, Kalamunai and Oluwil in the East and Hambantota, Galle, Matara and Hikkaduwa in the South. According to Mr. Guruge over 12 Grama niladaries have been rounded up in raids carried out by the CIABOC.

He praised the support given by the Legal Aid Commission through its ADB funded programme of training 50 Anti-corruption Legal officers to deal with malpractices in providing tsunami relief. “We are fortunate to have such a programme to prevent malpractices in giving tsunami aid even if it is already late,” he added.
Legal Aid Commission Chairman S. S. Wijeratne said that newly appointed Anti-corruption Legal Officers will be responsible for creating awareness among the people on how to deal with corrupted officers whenever they encounter them. They will also facilitate the complaining process. According to Mr. Wijeratne the legal aid centres will be set up in tsunami affected districts where people could go and make complaints. These will be set up in Colombo, Kalutara, Balapitiya, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Akkaraipattu and Kalamunai.

Director and Advisor of Legal Commission and Former Chairman of Bribery Commission Nelum Gamage said that the Ministry of Justice and Transparency International will act as partners of this project. Three Anti-Corrption Legal officers will be appointed to each legal aid centre.

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Millions of tsunami funds embezzled- Bribery Commission

Lanka-e-news: 25/02/2006"

Numerous complaints have been made to the Bribery and Corruption Commission regarding embezzlement and misappropriation of local and foreign aid amounting to millions of rupees received for tsunami recovery efforts, Investigating Director of the Commission, Superintendent of Police Neville Guruge said.

He divulged this at a media briefing held in Colombo this morning and added many complaints have been received from the Northern, Eastern and the Southern provinces.

He claimed that the majority of these complaints were against Grama Niladharis and officials attached to the Divisional Secretariats.

There have been numerous occasions where Grama Niladharis had distributed tsunami aid among their associates instead of those genuinely affected by the disaster and legal action has already been constituted against 10 such Grama Niladharis, SP Guruge said.

The Legal Aid Commission has appointed legal officers to probe misappropriation of tsunami funds but they should really have been appointed a year ago in 2005, Mr. Guruge noted. However he welcomed the move as a positive sign even at this late stage.

The Investigations Director of the Bribery Commission said on the basis of information received by the Commission, action would be taken to bring the accused to the book.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga recently stated that the Tsunami Fund has 23 billion rupees and requested President Rajapaksa to place before the people how these funds were spent. She also requested him to clear his name regarding the Helping Hambantota account.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Colombo Katunayake Expressway would now cost Rs. 35 billion

Sunday Observer: 26/02/2006"

The abandoned, yet, much-awaited 24 kilometre Colombo Katunayake Expressway could end up as a white elephant. Its 1994 cost estimation was Rs 5 billion; if completed now, it will cost Rs 35 billion ($350 million) making it the most expensive expressway built in the world, a RDA - Road Development Authority official told a seminar last week.

The Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka (CCISL) proposed its replacement with a Colombo Kandy Expressway running through Minuwangoda, with a node of six kilometres to the international airport.

The enormous volumes of sea sand, pumped from the safe distance of a few kilometres off the coast, and went into the filling to construct this abandoned expressway could be sold to the construction industry, starved for sand. It would supplement government coffers, CCISL president, Surath Wickremasinghe said.

The land acquired for the expressway could be made used to develop eco-tourism, or other gainful purposes, others in the construction industry said.

CCISL held a seminar on `Land transport infrastructure for economic development', intent on deliberating on the nexus between land transport infrastructure and economic development. Making the inaugural speech, Wickremasinghe touched on some of his observations, on schemes, he had been associated with. His comments were deliberated on, during the course of the seminar.

The proposed 24 kilometre stretch of the Colombo Katunayake Expressway, if carried out, must be reconsidered to optimise financial benefits, taking into account, technical and feasible reports. This expressway is designed to take traffic of goods and passengers to and out of the Katunayake international airport.

Yet another alternative would be to invest on an elevated expressway built above the existing railway track to Katunayake. Similar models have been built internationally between cities and its airports and ports.

Wickremasinghe cited the example of the 36 kilometre expressway between Bangalore City and its airport in Devanahalli, where a toll-based elevated expressway is accompanied with a mono or lite rail. Wickremasinghe referred to the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh who said early February, that to achieve an economic growth rate of 7-8 percent, India needed greater investment in infrastructure, such as roads, ports, telephones, airports, railways and power.

Wickremasinghe also referred to the Nadi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd the agency implementing the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project had proposed a high-speed, dedicated elevated toll road linking the airport to the heart of the city. Here, a monorail could be run on the central median, Wickremasinghe said.

The economic advantages of the proposed elevated expressway between Colombo and the Katunayake airport, are the trace is unencumbered for both rail and road transport with intersections at key railway stations; faster and shorter travel as against the ground level trace to the airport; higher contribution to economic development arising from more uses of goods, traffic and passengers; the compatibility of the road trace with planned expansion of the International Airport from five million to twelve million passengers per year by 2010 and the Colombo Port to eight million TEUs by 2015. (EL)

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Defaulting NGOs take off with Tsunami funds

Island: 24/01/2006" By Don Asoka Wijewardena

A number of foreign non governmental organisations, which had signed agreements with the government to reconstruct houses and schools in the Ampara district, have left the country, according to the Housing Ministry mission unaccomplished.

These NGO’s having collected large funds, from their respective countries and other donors, had gone back on their agreements and slipped out to Pakistan where they are now engaged in fraudulent activities.

Minister of Housing and Construction Industry, Eastern Province Education and Irrigation Development Ferial Ashraff told The Island that the government had signed agreements with 25 NGOs to construct houses for tsunami-affected people and the government was also able to provide them the relevant plans and land required.

Minister Ashraff pointed out that these NGOs with collection of huge donations from their respective countries had come to Sri Lanka on the pretext of doing construction work and had deceived the government.

She also said that up to now although 12,500 houses were needed in the Amapara district, construction work had commenced on only 1,200 houses. She added that tsunami-hit people who had been living in transitional houses had fallen into despondency.

Minister Ashraff said that these bogus NGOs with a great deal of collected donations had left Sri Lanka for Pakistan and were reported to have engaged in fraudulent activities disgracing their countries.

Referring to the NGOs activities, Minister Ashraff noted that it was the bounden duty of the government to provide permanent shelter to tsunami victims and the Government would have no alternative but to sign new agreements with organisations interested in humanitarian work. She also said the selection of NGOs for humanitarian activities should be done with transparency and accountability.

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Charity match didn’t help Sri Lanka – Murali

Island: 21/01/2006"

Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralidaran has accused World Vision of failing to pass on more than $14 million raised at last year’s tsunami match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Muralidaran, who narrowly escaped the tsunami and fronted World Vision initiatives in its aftermath, said the devastated southern region of Sri Lanka had not received any donations.

"We haven’t seen records of them doing anything in Sri Lanka," he said. "I don’t know where the money has gone."

Muralidaran did thank Steve Waugh. "He has given 10 houses," he said.

World Vision’s chief executive, Tim Costello, denied Muralidaran’s claims, saying he had seen work completed by the charity in Sri Lanka.

Figures released by World Vision on Thursday showed that money raised from the charity one-day cricket match was distributed to countries hit by the tsunami, which killed between 220,000 and 400,000 people.

"That is one of the most bizarre comments I have heard in my life," Mr Costello said, when told of Muralidaran’s assertions. "I was in Sri Lanka just before Christmas and saw the work we were doing myself."

Sri Lanka Government spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva said he could not comment on the dispensation of tsunami funds by World Vision but confirmed there had been concerned about reconstruction work by some foreign charities.

A diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "The perception is that World Vision is not performing on the ground, particularly in the area of housing reconstruction. Not a single permanent house has been built."

A World Vision spokesman said construction oof 2000 permanent houses was underway and 2200 temporary shelters had been built.

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