Aid distribution politically manipulated
[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 January 1999, 20:01 GMT]
Samurdhi appointments have not been given to areas in Batticaloa that are not controlled by the Sri Lankan Government, said sources. They said that 509 appointments were made in 1996 while 189 vacancies remain unfilled.
Despite repeated protests by parliamentarians, including the governing party members, the practice has not been changed.
Samurdhi is the name of the poverty alleviation program orginally begun by the UNP regime on the advice and guidelines of the IMF and World Bank.
Poverty alleviation programs are strongly recommended by the IMF/World Bank to countries implementing the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) as a means of cushioning the political repercussions of harsh economic reforms stipulated by the two institutions.
The IMF/World Bank provide, to countries implementing the SAP, financial assistance called Structural Adjustment facility SAF, part of which goes into poverty alleviation.
The SAP was enforced in Sri Lanka under President Ranasinghe Premadasa who turned this a political project of his own, calling it Janasaviya.
Although he launched it with much fanfare, amidst high expectations and hype, it delivered little, except doling out assistance to the rural poor.
Yet the PA saw Janasaviya as a potential means by which the UNP had wooed some sympathy among the rural poor.
Many recipients of Janasaviya were loyal to the UNP.
Hence one of the first things the People's Alliance (PA) did when it came to power was to dismantle the Janasaviya program.
It started a new poverty alleviation program called the Samurdhi under the same IMF/World Bank facility.
The program has faced some problems due to mismanagement.
But it has been used from its inception as a means of building up a political support base among the rural poor by the PA.
The benefits of neither the Janasaviya nor the Samurdhi reached the Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island except partially in some small areas where it was approved by the SLA.