The High Level Committee or Disaster Relief met today at the Presidentís Office. The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Leader of the United National Party and representatives of other political parties reviewed all aspects of the ongoing relief operations in tsunami affected areas island wide.
The committee resolved to replace or appoint additional staff where officials were found to be apathetic.
The President briefed the assembly about key Cabinet decisions made yesterday [26th Jan] regarding relief and reconstruction plans. She explained the proposed new regulations for construction in the coastal belt and State assistance for housing, the fisheries industry, employment and commercial activities of those affected on December 26th.
The funds received from various donors and their accountability was discussed in detail. It was decided to make public such details and publish the names of people and organizations that have made donations in the newspapers. Most of these donations and the funds accrued to the special Presidentís Fund for Disaster Relief will be utilized on housing projects for those who lost their dwellings in the disaster. The President and the other leaders were appreciative of the business community for volunteering to take on a significant share of the Governmentís new housing projects.
The possible negative effects of mismanagement of the vast inflow of finances were also talked about. The assembly was informed that the Treasury and the External Resources Department of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have set up a new mechanism to receive local and foreign funds. These resources will be diverted to projects already identified in a systematic manner. All donors and NGOs are expected to follow the guidelines soon to be issued by the Ministry of Finance.
It was decided self-employment should also be promoted by making available handloom textile weaving machines to some of the displaced persons in the Eastern Province.
The importance of regular district level meetings of Government Agents and political representatives of the affected districts was emphasized by the Deputy Leader of the UNP. Mr. Karu Jayasuriya reiterated the commitment of his party to assist the Government in its efforts to rebuild the country. He said that UNP will continue its dialogue with the Government and other political parties.
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