Norwegian aid faces MoD hurdles
[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Norway granted 520 million rupees to the Sri Lankan government to improve the standard of living and the economy of the Batticaloa district.The grant agreement was signed at the Sri Lankan government's treasury last evening (10 Oct).
The grant is aimed at raising the standard of living in the district to be on par with the national level in Sri Lanka.
The war ravaged Batticaloa has traditionally been one of the most economically backward regions of the island. Landlessness, illiteracy (as high as 48 percent) and unemployment are very high.
The district had the lowest per capita in the whole island when the last World Bank survey was done in 1986. Conditions have tremendously deteriorated since then.
The Norwegian grant will go for income and employment generation projects, infrastructure improvement, agricultural development etc.
The Sri Lankan army has imposed severe restrictions on development work and the functions of non governmental organisations in the region. Project plans in this region have to get approval from the Sri Lankan MoD.
The full utilisation of the Norwegian fund might be a difficult task under these circumstances as its release is linked to specific projects. It is not clear as yet whether the Norwegian government has considered this situation in its grant assessment.