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
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.