WB giving Rs. 6 b. for Tiger areas
Country director insists LTTE a key stakeholder
By Tyron Devotta
The World Bank will channel six billion rupees through State agencies for the rebuilding of houses in LTTE-controlled areas but will consult the LTTE on the disbursement of funds, a senior official said yesterday.

World Bank Country Director Peter Harrold told The Sunday Times the projects were for tsunami victims and those displaced in the two decades of war. He said the World Bank was considering the LTTE as a key stakeholder.

"I have often been roasted by sections of the media and the Patriotic National Movement because they considered our consultation with the LTTE inappropriate.

"Given the fact that there is an officially recognized LTTE-controlled area, a kind of unofficial state, and since it is a party to the ceasefire agreement with the Government, the LTTE has the status of a legitimate stakeholder," he said.
Mr. Harrold said it would be naïve for anybody, including the Government, to think that they could successfully carry out operations in the North and East without having a dialogue with the LTTE or without bringing it in as a stakeholder.

The World Bank grant to the LTTE-controlled area is part of an overall aid package to Sri Lanka for the tsunami-affected and internally displaced people. The overall aid will be about 22.5 billion rupees which will be partly a grant and partly a loan on soft terms.

Of this amount, about 15 billion rupees is for the tsunami-affected and more than 70 % of this will be spent for rehabilitation and building of houses in the North and East.

Mr. Harrold said this provisional support from the World Bank had to be driven by needs and not politics. "This is a human disaster and the fact of the matter is that the housing damage by the tsunami disproportionately hit the North-East."

Of the total, 7.5 billion rupees has been allocated for people displaced by the war. "A lot of it will be used in the Wanni and the Jaffna peninsula," Mr. Harrold said.

"If you accept the basic rationale as to why the World Bank is around -- to alleviate poverty -- you will have to accept that we will work in these areas where the largest numbers of poor exist. And if we are going to work in the North and East, then it is only right and proper to talk to the LTTE and engaging with it can only be good for the peace process in Sri Lanka," the World Bank Country Director said.

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