Sri Lanka’s tsunami aid: Over $1 billion missing or misappropriated

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 December 2009, 01:20 GMT]
Nearly half a billion dollars in tsunami aid for Sri Lanka is unaccounted for and over 600 million dollars has been spent on projects unrelated to the disaster, press reports quoted anti Transparency International as saying Saturday. The anti-corruption watchdog demanded an audit of the money received by the Sri Lankan government to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami which hit the island on December 26, 2004, killing 31,000 people, AFP said.

Berlin-based Transparency International’s Sri Lankan chapter said the public have a right to know how the aid money was spent as the island marked the fifth anniversary of the tsunami.

The group alleged that out of 2.2 billion dollars received for relief, 603.4 million dollars was spent on projects unrelated to the disaster.

Another half a billion dollars was missing, the group said.

"There is no precise evidence to explain the missing sum of 471.9 million dollars," the Transparency International statement issued in Colombo added.

An "audit should be done by the government to explain the utilization of the money received and the challenges faced," the group said.

An AFP report Saturday said an government official declined comment on the allegations and noted that Colombo has consistently rejected such accusations in the past.

An initial government audit in 2005 found that less than 13 percent of the aid had been spent, but there has been no formal examination since, Transparency International said.

 

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