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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, May 14, 2007

Tsunami audit delayed, funds suspended

Sunday Times: 13/05/2007" By Chathuri Dissanayaka

International donors, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the German Development Bank, have suspended funds for tsunami reconstruction work as the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA) has failed to submit the audit reports in time, officials said.

The move has prompted one state bank to suspend grants for the reconstruction of tsunami-damaged houses while another state bank says it is continuing the grants from its own money though it has to collect as much as Rs. 2 billion from the Treasury as reimbursements.
Nation Building Ministry Secretary Ravi Dissanayaka said a delay in submitting the audit reports had resulted in the donor community suspending the funds.

The government grants programme for rebuilding of houses damaged by the tsunami pays Rs. 250,000 for a fully-damaged house in four instalments and pays Rs. 150,000 for a partly damaged house through the two state banks.

The Bank of Ceylon has stopped the payment of grants in 14 of its 15 branches from where the payments were being made.“We have not received the reimbursement for the expenditure incurred in 14 branches. We received the money for Matara district and we have restarted paying only in that branch,” a BoC official said.

Thus beneficiaries are faced with difficulties as they are unable to meet the closing dates of each phase due to the situation that has arisen. RADA’s Finance Director Ramesh Selliah said there was a delay in submitting the reports and it had resulted in a temporary setback in the reconstruction process.

“We have not submitted the final audit report yet. Preparing the final audit report is a very complicated process and we are hoping to submit it by the beginning of next week after which all the problems would be sorted out,” Mr. Selliah said. Peoples Bank has an outstanding balance of close to two billion which is yet to be paid by the Treasury. However, the bank continues to pay the grant to the beneficiaries in all 58 of its branches where the programme operates.

“We pay the grant to the beneficiaries out of bank funds and the outstanding amount increases daily as the bank continues to pay as it is our obligation as a state bank. It is difficult to continue it as the profit levels of the branches are reduced,” a Peoples Bank official said.


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