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World Bank goes local to stop relief fund misuse

World Bank will distribute funds to local bodies to prevent misuse of tsunami aid, reports PK.Balachanddran.
PTI | By PK.Balachanddran, Colombo
PUBLISHED ON JAN 08, 2005 09:52 PM IST

The World Bank has worked out a system to prevent the misuse of the aid that it is giving to the tsunami-ravaged countries.

Announcing an initial grant of US$ 10 million in cash to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Saturday, the bank's President James D.Wolfensohn said that the money would be allocated at the instance of local committees and will be given to the local bodies.

This way, the funds would not only meet the felt needs of the people but would be managed by the local people themselves, he said. And corruption would be curbed because the locals would know who the crooks were!

The bank was for a transparent and decentralized system with plenty of local participation, he said. He stressed the need for capacity building in the civil society and the private sector, which would play a key role in the bank-aided reconstruction projects.

Asked if the World Bank had an effective monitoring system, he said that it had.

The Sri Lankan government, as indeed all the governments in the tsunami hit countries, had indicated that they would set up a transparent system, he said.

He suggested that the governments of these countries set up websites on the relief and reconstruction work showing the utilization of funds so that the process was absolutely transparent.

He appealed to the countries hit by the tsunami, not to let old impediments and animosities affect the fair distribution of aid and relief and reconstruction projects.
He hoped that the reconstruction process would further the cause of peace and understanding in Sri Lanka.

"But I can give no guarantee that it will," he said.

Wolfesohn said that all this might seem utopian, but added that emergencies gave a chance for utopian ideas to be put into effect.

Sri Lanka, he said, had a debt of US$ 600 million in principal and interest. Asked if the bank would provide some relief on this account, he said that it would be "very sensitive" to the issue.

On the possibility of increasing the quantum of aid, he said that it could go up as funds were not a problem.

For the all the eleven countries put together, the total bank allocation could go up to US$ 1000 million, he said. But he added that what he was more concerned about was the proper utilization of the funds.

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