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Large sum meant for Sri Lanka tsunami aid goes missing
Colombo | December 26, 2007 1:05:11 PM IST
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The Sri Lankan government has failed to account for as much as 44.3 percent of the international aid it had received following the tsunami of Dec 26, 2004, an international watchdog has pointed out.

In a statement published here Wednesday, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said that as per figures up to March 2007, the international community, including governments, multilateral institutions and NGOs, had pledged Sri Lankan Rs.241.5 billion ($2.2 billion), out which Rs.122.1 billion were disbursed. Of the disbursed amount, Rs.68.5 billion were spent.

In other words, only 55.7 percent had been utilized. There is no account of what was done with the remaining 44.3 percent of the funds. The funds are missing, TISL alleges.

"The difference between the disbursed and the expended (amount) has been a controversial issue that does not have a credible explanation," its statement said.

"While some officials were reluctant to divulge the information, there were some responsible bodies which implied that the funds have been utilised by the government for other purposes.

"There is no precise evidence to explain the missing sum," TISL said.

The watchdog has called for a special review of tsunami expenditure by the country's auditor general and also the appointment of a separate committee by the public accounts committee of parliament to go into the spending.

"TISL believes that it is a right of the Sri Lankan people to know the true picture of the tsunami recovery process," the statement asserted.

Some 31,000 people died and one million were left homeless in the country after the tsunami.

(IANS)

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