Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) joins the civil society organisations of Sri Lanka in congratulating the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and all other parties who are involved in negotiating a political solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka.The Government has recently disclosed the proposed mechanism for development of the North and East with the participation of the LTTE and donor agencies. Civil society has welcomed the proposal as one that encourages the warring parties to agree on a mechanism to supervise and carryout post coLTnflict reconstruction.
However, TISL is concerned that the proposed mechanism does not disclose the safety procedures that are expected of an accountable and transparent mechanism in post-war reconstruction. We are particularly concerned that the proposed mechanism does not disclose any guidelines for transparency such as release of information to public on decision-making or the disbursement of funds. TISL strongly believes that the public in Sri Lanka is entitled to know the process of disbursement of funds whether the re-construction takes place in geographical areas controlled by either the LTTE or Government.
Various sources including multilateral agencies have pledged an unprecedented quantum of donor funds, loans and other contributions at the Tokyo Donor Meeting for the development of the North and East as an incentive to peace in Sri Lanka. Having regard to the past global experience on post war reconstructions resulting in unimaginable waste and corruption, TISL emphasises the need for a strong accountability framework guaranteeing the following:
(a)All expenditure needs to be audited by recognised mechanisms and by qualified persons who have experience in the Sri Lanka situation. All parties should permit unqualified auditing and facilitate such auditors without any hindrance.
(b)All procurements and other construction contracts should be secured on a transparent tender procedure leaving no room for corruption and misappropriation of funds.
(c)Both parties should release accurate and genuine information to civil society and media, at least in respect of allocation of funds, utilisation of funds and current status of expenditure on regular basis.
(d)The decision making process of the proposed Apex Body, the implementation of such decisions by various governmental and non governmental institutions and the working of the North and East Rehabilitation Fund should not be immune from public scrutiny.
TISL reminds the Sri Lankan public of past experience of reconstruction in other countries such as Bosnia, where unimaginable corruption has been the key factor that shocked the world. Past experience in post-conflict corruption demands that special safeguards be introduced to ensure accountability. In that context, TISL calls upon the Government, the LTTE and other stakeholders to amend the proposed reconstruction mechanism by building in principles of transparency and accountability as proposed above.