The March 26th marks the three month anniversary of the south east Asian tsunami. It is now time to take stock of the reconstruction process as well as the national and international commitment towards the rebuilding effort.
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) believes that all stakeholders, including the government of Sri Lanka, needs to critically evaluate their role in the process.
Intense political debates not related to the devastation or to rebuilding the nation have dominated the political agenda of Sri Lanka. TISL urges all political leaders, parties and groups to act with responsibility to ensure that the highest priority is given to post- tsunami reconstruction, while still providing victims with the assurance that their voices will be considered and heard.
TISL has repeatedly urged the government and all parties concerned to approach the reconstruction process in a more participatory manner. It is only through such an approach that any possible corruption could be minimized in Sri Lanka. Currently, existing institutional safeguards, including financial accountability, are weak in securing transparency and accountability.
Both public and privately owned media has exposed the increasing collusion of public officials in the disbursement of aid and relief, as well as detailing corruption in post-tsunami activities. A final detailed needs/damage assessment is yet to be released to the public, and contradictory statements related to foreign aid are being made by public personalities. In light of this context, a solid strategy to minimize corruption is needed as a matter of urgency.A failure to do so, will result in large scale corruption dominating the reconstruction process leaving the government and the public helpless.
It is of paramount importance for all stakeholders, including the government and donors to closely monitor the reconstruction process. It is sad to note that although initial willingness was displayed,the donor communityhas failed to give sufficient priority to encourage monitoring of the reconstruction process. Unless both the government and donors themselves immediately encourage and facilitate effective participation of the civil society, community based organizations and professional bodies to be engaged in a systemic monitoring activity of relief operations, it may be too late to stem the tide of corruption of these much needed resources.