A top EU official Friday assured President
Mahinda Rajapakse of a thorough investigation on alleged
embezzlement of tsunami reconstruction funds by NGOs based in EU
Niranjan De Silva Deva-Aditya, the majority
leader of the Overseas Development Committee of the EU met
Rajapakse at Temple Trees where he discussed a front-page report
headlined Rehab. Chief slams NGOs over embezzlement of
tsunami funds on the previous day’s issue.
"I am appalled," he told The Island ,
expressing the belief that the government would provide him with
the required information. President Rajapakse promised to
facilitate the inquiry, he said, adding that he was in touch
with relevant authorities.
The British member of EU Parliament said that he
held several meetings with NGOs and Ambassadors of countries
involved with tsunami relief, reconstruction and development
efforts. "I was told that everything was fine," he said. But the
recent statements attributed to RADA Chief Ms. Shanthi Fernando
and the Central Bank caused apprehension, he said.
Depending on the information provided by the
government, Deva-Aditya intends to have a public hearing in the
According to him the EU released USD 450 million
to Sri Lanka and Indonesia after the tsunami and the
international community sent USD 4.2 billion to the affected
countries. Fielding questions, he said that during Friday’s
meeting he discussed the peace process, the humanitarian crisis
triggered by the latest bout of fighting and his decision to
contest the Post of UN Secretary General.
RADA Chief Ms. Shanthi Fernando last week
accused both local and international NGOs of large scale
embezzlement of tsunami reconstruction and development funds.
Detailing shortcomings in the reconstruction
strategy, Ms Fernando focused on the alleged irregularities
involving the NGOs, recipient of considerable amount of funds.
According to the Bank Supervision Department of
the Central Bank 256 NGOs had received donations and other funds
amounting to Rs. 40.1 bn by way of credits to their bank
accounts from various foreign and local sources during 2005.
A survey revealed that 73% of total foreign
remittances were received by 30 NGOs, each receiving foreign
remittances in the range of 1% to 12% of total foreign
Further, it was revealed that nearly 79% of
funds received in the bank accounts of all NGOs during 2005 had
been withdrawn. The 30 NGOs referred to above had withdrawn 85%
of funds received in their bank accounts during the year 2005.
Against this background Parliament appointed a
Select Committee to probe NGOs. The investigation is headed by
JVP MP Vijitha Herath.
Initially 23 International NGOs pledged to
construct 66,811 houses, Ms. Fernando said, claiming that
finally they entered into agreements with the government to
build 16,487 houses. By end of last year they completed only
1,232 houses, she said, accusing a certain NGO of making a
grandiose plan to construct 26,000 houses. But this particular
NGO completed only 264 houses by end of last year, she said. "We
would like to know what happened to the funds collected by
them," she said, emphasising the government’s right to know.
The RADA chief acknowledged that only 38 percent
of the total number of houses needed by the tsunami homeless had
been completed. According to her by the first week of August the
government reached agreements with various NGOs for the
construction of 29,971 houses. She placed the total number of
homeless families at 35,363 while adding that of the total
requirement 11,551 houses had been completed. According to her
6,946 houses were under construction.