Norway provides credit guarantee fund to South Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Friday, 11 August 2006, 07:26 GMT]
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that has provided Rs 200 million in support for the reconstruction of 32 Buddhist Temples in southern Sri Lanka and 35 religious buildings in the east, said Wednesday that it agreed to provide further Rs. 250 million to establish a credit guarantee fund for the southern region, according to a press release issued by the Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka. Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer and Ambassador Brattskar attended the opening ceremony of two Buddhist Temples damaged by the tsunami in Galle and established the Credit Guarantee Fund for the southern region.

Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim last week said his country would provide emergency humanitarian relief worth Sri Lankan Rupees 150 million to Sri Lanka.

Full text of the press release follows:

Norwegian support to Southern Sri Lanka

Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer and H.E. Ambassador Hans Brattskar participated today in the opening ceremonies of Buddhist Temples and in the establishment of a Credit Guarantee Fund for the southern region in Galle.

Special Envoy Hanssen-Bauer and Ambassador Brattskar attended the opening ceremony of two Buddhist Temples damaged by the tsunami in Galle on 9 August. On the same day they attended the signing ceremony to establish a Credit Guarantee Fund for the southern region and also visited new roads constructed with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The tsunami took a terrible toll on Sri Lanka and the lives of its people. Religious institutions in Sri Lanka played an important role in providing shelter and support from the very first moments after the tsunami. They have served as pillars in the reconstruction of the country, and they have offered solace and comfort to those in grief. As part of Norway’s continued support to the people who suffered grave losses during the tsunami, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided approximately Rs 200 million in support for the reconstruction of 32 Buddhist Temples in southern Sri Lanka and 35 religious buildings in the east, including Buddhist Temples, Hindu Kovils, Mosques and Churches.

Two Temples were officially reopened on 9 August. The first ceremony took place at 9 am at Padumagabharamaya, Paraliya, Hikkaduwa, Galle. The second ceremony was scheduled for 11 am at Rathanodaramaya, Rathgama, Hikkaduwa, Galle.

The Norwegian Government has furthermore agreed to provide Rs. 250 million to establish a credit guarantee fund for the southern region. The members of the five Chambers of Commerce in the southern region (Matara, Galle, Hambantota, Moneragala and Rathnapura) will benefit from the fund, which will provide credit guarantee from commercial banks without heavy collateral to start new businesses and to expand existing SMEs. The signing of the agreement with the five Chambers took place at Chamber of Commerce in Galle at 2:30 pm on 9 August.

During the period 2003 to 2006 the Government of Norway provided Rs. 100 million for the development of road networks in the Southern Region. The funds have been used for the improvement of selected ‘E’ grade road networks in Galle, Matara, Hambantota and Rathnapura. The main components of the project were the upgrade and improvement of rural roads, the construction of small bridges and the establishment of maintenance funds. Special Envoy Hanssen-Bauer and Ambassador Brattskar visited the newly constructed roads near Galle after the abovementioned signing ceremony at the Chamber of Commerce.

Norway has committed over Rs. 6 billion to the post-tsunami relief and rehabilitation efforts in Sri Lanka. These funds come in addition to substantial funds collected privately by Norwegian humanitarian organisations working in Sri Lanka.

 

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