USD 1.5 billion needed for post-tsunami reconstruction - President's aide
[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 January 2005, 15:36 GMT]
Head of Sri Lanka's newly appointed Task Force to Rebuild the Nation (TAFREN), Mr. Mano Tittawella, who is also one of the close confidante and senior advisors to President Kumaratunga, said at a press conference in Colombo Thursday that according to the initial assessment, the country needed at least USD 1.5 billion to rebuild the tsunami-hit coastal belts of Sri Lanka. He said that the international donor countries and agencies have already pledged approximately USD one billion, of which most of them were grants.
Mr. Tittawella said that his Task Force (TAFREN) was entrusted with the task of reconstructing the basic infrastructure facilities including hospitals, schools, fisheries, power, road network, railways, housing, water supply, drainage and telecom.
"There is an intensive dialogue going on with the LTTE through the facilitators, Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation & Reconciliation (RRR), and the government's Peace Secretariat on ways to carry out the reconstruction work in LTTE-controlled areas," he claimed.
However, he said that as far as the government was concerned Sri Lanka was considered "one sovereign nation" and therefore, the international aid resources should be going through the "accepted process".
Claiming that the initial assessment covered the damages in the North-East, he said that the assessment of these areas was carried out using aerial photographs, telephone conversations and the statistics provided by the Government Agents.
He said further that a finalised plan of the proposed reconstruction would be available by January 15, the day which the government will launch the reconstruction work.
The President intended to complete the rebuilding of many of the infrastructure within six months using the resources of the international relief task force, Tittawella claimed.