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Sri Lanka's tsunami relief structure may be operational for just one year

V. S. Sambandan

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's proposed Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) is to be operational for an initial period of one year across a two-km belt in the tsunami-affected region. A regional fund has also been proposed with a multilateral agency as a "custodian" for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in the six tsunami-affected districts in the north and east. According to current indications, the World Bank is likely to be the custodian.

A "synopsis" of the draft MoU for the establishment of the P-TOMS, published in the Daily Mirror on Monday describes the mechanism as a "bottom-up" approach with six district committees — one each in the six tsunami-affected districts in the north and east — Amparai, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mullaittivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna.

Implementation

The regional committee will comprise 10 members — five nominees from the LTTE, three from the Muslim parties and two from the Sri Lankan Government, with "a proper gender balance." This committee will be responsible for "prioritising, approving, managing and monitoring the implementation of projects."

At the apex level, a three-member "high-level committee" will have a nominee each from the Government, the Muslim parties and the LTTE. The draft proposal provides an "observer" role to the international donor community, with two nominees each to the high level and the regional committees. For the regional committee, in addition to the two observers, others "may also be invited."

The "geographic scope" of the mechanism would be the "land area affected by the tsunami — within two km of the coastline" and the MoU "will not change the terms of the ceasefire agreement between Colombo and the LTTE."

According to the comments to the draft MoU, the Regional Fund will be set up by an agreement between the multilateral agency and Colombo and the LTTE "as a non-state entity, cannot be party to such an agreement."

Chandrika meets Ranil

Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Monday met MPs and organisers of her Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Leader of Opposition and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as part of her ongoing political discussions on the P-TOMS.

Ms. Kumaratunga's deliberations with political leaders is against the backdrop of an ultimatum by the ruling ally, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), that the proposed P-TOMS must be withdrawn by June 15, failing which it would withdraw its support to the governing coalition.

According to a source close to the President, the meetings by Ms. Kumaratunga are aimed at exploring all possible political options to pursue the P-TOMS and maintain government stability.

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