Treasury funds for SIHRN projects till NERF in place
By Namini Wijedasa
He also said the government will start on a work plan for the projects by Monday while implementation may begin in as soon as two weeks.
The move came amid high expectations that peace talks will resume shortly, although a date is yet to be confirmed. Bernard Goonetilleke, head of the Peace Secretariat, said it was "impossible" to think talks will start next week because of scheduling and logistical difficulties.
However, Goonetilleke asserted that, "they will start all right". A Norwegian delegation visited Wanni for talks with LTTE leaders yesterday while Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi and Norwegian Prime Minister Jan Petersen are expected next week.
Treasury funds will now enable work to begin on 15 projects approved under SIHRN, the official said. Once the NERF agreement is signed, the Treasury will be reimbursed.
The LTTE has complained that decisions made under SIHRN (Sub-committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs) were not being translated into action. Yesterdays proposal was part of efforts by the government to meet their concerns and has been described as an "interim measure".
Meanwhile, a draft of the NERF agreement has been forwarded to the Attorney General as "there are certain problems to be addressed", the official explained. He did not elaborate on the contentious issues but the Peace Secretariat had earlier revealed that they pertained to various legal difficulties arising from the fact that the LTTE was a non-state entity.
It was the first time the World Bank was drafting such an agreement with a non-state body while difficulties were worsened by the fact that the LTTE was a banned terrorist organisation in USA.
A government source said that the initial plan had been to sign the NERF agreement on Tuesday. However, the legal concerns had delayed this and forced the document to be conveyed to the Attorney General.
The money for implementation of SIHRN projects is to be drawn from NERF, for which the World Bank is the custodian. Norway has already pledged a US$ 2.7 million grant to the fund while the government has contacted other members of the donor community for specific information on the quantum of funds they wish to provide NERF.
Yesterdays meeting was chaired by Secretary to the Prime Minister Bradman Weerakoon while Treasury Secretary Charitha Ratwatte represented the Treasury.
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