Foreign funds galore for three NGOs : Over Rs. 600 mn. received in 3 yrs; Norway leading donor


by Shamindra Ferdinando

A government investigation has found that in spite of the conclusion of the war in May, 2009, a section of the international community is still pouring money into Sri Lankan NGOs like the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and National Peace Council (NPC). Transparency International Sri Lanka is another major recipient of foreign grants during the 2008 to 2010 period. According to banking sources, the CPA has received Rs. 272.31 million during the three-year period. The NPC and TI have received Rs. 171.23 million and 174.79 million, respectively.

Sources said that the funding sources included Meyers Norris Penny Ltd RM (Canada), Canadian International Development Agency, Berghof Foundation (Germany), Facilitating Local Initiatives for Conflict Transformation (Germany), Stichting Cordaid (The Netherlands), Norwegian Embassy, Commission Des Communautes (Norway), ICT for Peace Foundation (Switzerland), Dep. F. Auswaert, Angelegenheiten (Switzerland), Swedish Embassy, Swedish International Development Agency, Goldman Sachs Grant (UK), Minority Rights GRP Ltd BCA (UK), European Commission, Transparency International Division (UK), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (UK), European Union, Diakonia (US), Forum of Federations/Forum Des (US), International Media Support (US), the Ford Foundation (US), Fredskorpset Bergen (US), National Endowment for Democracy (US), Partnership for Transparency Fund (US) and Academy for Educational Development (US).

Of Rs. 618.33 million received by the CPA, NPC and TI during the three-year period, Rs. 111.48 million had been donated by various other sources.

Recently, the Norwegian Embassy, in response to a query by The Island said that the it had launched an initiative three years ago to ensure accountability in Norwegian funded projects.

According to available data, the Norwegian Embassy is the largest single donor. It has granted NGOs Rs. 148.11 million during three-year period and the NPC is the recipient of the single largest grant from them; it received Rs. 70.48 million.

The TI has received its largest single grant from Norway amounting to Rs. 63.28 million, whereas CPA’s single biggest contribution came from the European Commission (Rs. 43. 27 million).

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has revealed that of NOK 2.5 billion spent on development cooperation during the period 1997 to 2009 in Sri Lanka, NOK 100 million was allocated for the peace process.

The European Commission (Rs. 55.61 million) and the Swedish International Development Agency (Rs. 43.11 million) are the second and the third major contributors.

The country’s banking system has no records of the exact amount of funds received by NGOs over the past two to three decades. Sources said that an enormous amount of funds had been received by NGOs since Feb. 2002, with some countries and the UNDP providing funds to the LTTE Peace Secretariat.

Responding to a query by The Island with regard to foreign funding received by the NPC, it Director Dr. Jehan Perera said: "NPC was set up to address the ethnic conflict in our country that had led to war. The NPC has consistently stood for a political solution. Our work is essentially in this spirit. Our belief is that there must be a political solution to the ethnic problem that has the people’s understanding and support. Most of our work is educational. Our work is with the people and in the public domain. We hold workshops, seminars and conferences. In addition, since we believe in first hand learning, we take groups from the South to the North and vice versa. These groups have included community activists, journalists, clergy and also local level politicians. We also engage in advocacy, such as media releases, advertisements and opinion columns. There is a lot of responsiveness amongst the people, but also lack of knowledge of the reality of others’ lives especially across ethnic lines. We believe in engagement in the spirit of reconciliation and peace building even when it has seemed hopeless."

Government sources said that a mechanism was needed to monitor funds channelled through the banking system as well as other means from foreign donors to local agencies.

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