No US funds for P-TOMS

By Namini Wijedasa

The United States will not contribute money towards the donor fund of the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) because the LTTE — a banned terrorist organisation in the US — will chair the group that administers the funds, diplomatic sources revealed yesterday.

"It will raise legal issues back home as the LTTE chairs the group that will administer the funds," a source said on the condition of anonymity. "The US will find it problematic to contribute towards a trust fund that the LTTE will have a part in administering."

Asked for its official stand, the US embassy spokesman Philip Frayne confirmed: "We will not contribute funds into the donors’ trust fund."

Questioned further, Frayne replied: "We have allocated more than $130 million for tsunami relief and reconstruction. Some of these funds are spent on projects administered by NGO’s and INGO’s that work in all affected areas, including the North, East and South.

"U.S. funds will not be provided to the Treasury, although all U.S.-funded activities are co-ordinated with the government. The U.S. will also offer debt relief to the government."

Frayne added that USA had supported the P-TOMS because it holds the prospect for efficient and equitable reconstruction assistance to those affected by the tsunami.

Meanwhile, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday quoted US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead as saying that US tsunami relief funds will be directed to the Sri Lanka Treasury and not to the regional fund of the P-TOMS.

Lunstead met a JHU delegation on Tuesday. A JHU statement said Ambassador Lunstead had also assured them that the US would make a request through the UN Tsunami Rehabilitation Committee for other donor countries to follow their example when granting tsunami relief funds to Sri Lanka.

The JHU presented Lunstead with a letter addressed to US President George Bush.

Signed by JHU leader Ven Ellawala Medananda Thera. The letter urged Bush not to divert US tsunami aid to the P-TOMS regional fund but to remit all committed funds to the consolidated fund established under the Sri Lankan Constitution.

It points out that "all foreign donations would be managed and channelled through a regional fund where the separatist terrorist organisation LTTE is given the chairmanship and the majority, located in Killinochchi — a terrorist controlled area in Sri Lanka".

Contributing funds to the P-TOMS regional fund would be a violation of the US Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act of 2001 and Section 148,149 & 157 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, JHU emphasises.



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