World Bank chief says tsunami assistance could go upto USD one billion

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 January 2005, 19:15 GMT]
Reserving over USD 100 million to Sri Lanka from the existing projects for immediate recovery work and to rebuild the devastated homes and spectrum of livelihood, visiting World Bank chief D. Wolfensohn hinted in Colombo Saturday that the post tsunami relief assistance of the Bank to rebuild the devastated region could well go upto the mammoth USD one billion mark. He said in addition to the already released USD 10 million to Sri Lanka, an emergency credit of not less than USD 75 million, of which 40 percent would be a grant, would be made available to enable the government to begin recovery work.

Speaking at a media briefing at Colombo Hilton at the end of his tsunami tour to Sri Lanka, he said that the Bank has been in discussion with Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama to explore "how the current portfolio (of the Bank) can be restructured to release more funds to the emergency work."

Answering to a question whether the World Bank's fund would flow even into rebuilding the LTTE-held territories, he said that the Bank would adopt a 'colour-blind approach' in reserving and distributing the relief fund, the Work Bank chief, and "are going to proceed on the assumption that it is a human tragedy and not going to see whether one is Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslim".

"We will support the government as it develops a fast, transparent and effective way to convert the billions of dollars pledged all over the world into rupees in the hands of poor fishermen in Sri Lanka or for a community to rebuild its homes," he said.

Answering to questions posed by reporters with regard to transparency and accountability in handling the outpouring international funds for rebuilding activities, he said that the Bank has the monitoring mechanism already in operation to battle any such corruption.

"We are least bothered about monetary, but are widely concerned about how they are going to be spent", he said, adding that the only way combat corruption was to get as much as local community participation in both decision making and plan implementation.

"As planning and implementation got underway, it was also necessary to ensure the full involvement of local communities, civil society and key stake holders, and do so in ways that will support the peace process," he said, adding that the advantage of getting greater local community involvement would be that they would know better as to who the crooks were.

 

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