Optimum use of foreign aid
Many aid agencies in the
past had delivered strictures on successive Governments for
under utilizing donor aid.Some even refused to extend further
aid due to this reason, stalling development work. This is
mainly due to the fact that our administrative set up was
hamstrung by red tape and other bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Project permits were held back for one reason or other and
investors were sent from pillar to post resulting in delay in
these projects getting off the ground. More often than not
development projects were abandoned due to investors quitting in
disgust. The end result - grandiose development programs being
stillborn and donor funds still in the kitty.
Therefore it is encouraging to note Media Minister Lakshman
Yapa Abeywardhana saying that Government entities would be
strengthened to enhance utilization of foreign aid towards
Speaking at a function in Matara the Minister said at present
foreign aid utilization stood at 35 percent which needs to be
increased to a higher level with the opening up of new
development projects in the country including the North and
East.”With the dawn of peace in the country, the Government has
launched many development projects with Government and donor
funds covering the whole country”.
Compared with the poor performance in the past, 35 percent
aid utilization is noteworthy. What should be done now is to
improve it further so that a majority share of the aid could be
spent productively. It is necessary to streamline the
administration so that feasibility studies, environment import
studies and other necessary procedures and administration could
be completed without unnecessary delay.
Foreign aid is obtained with difficulty and for good causes.
Hence it is a criminal wastage, if it remains unutilized or
underutilized. While unutilized aid is lost, development work
for which they were obtained gets stalled.
Sri Lanka stands to get rid of the lethargy and sluggishness
that has almost become a hallmark of development work,
especially those in the State sector.
It could also be advisable to remove the component of foreign
aid utilized for seminars, foreign trips and other unproductive
With massive foreign funds now expected to flow into the
country, the Government must see to it that every dollar is
spent for the intended purpose and that no room is left for
waste and financial impropriety. This, while ensuring that the
funds are spent prudently where the public derives the maximum
Under-utilization of donor funds is the result of poor
planning and direction and most often occurs when the
anticipated counterpart funds fail to materialize. Sometimes
development projects that started with much fanfare gets stalled
midway due to this and the donor component remains idle.
Therefore all angles should be covered in any given project to
ensure the optimum funds being utilized.
Above all, accountability should be the key principal
governing the utilization of donor funds. This is more so since
funding sources are fast drying up due to heavy lending into
spheres affected by the global financial crisis. Ideally the
Government should set up a separate body staffed with experts to
monitor the utilization of foreign aid to ensure no areas are
neglected in the post war reconstruction.
Arresting reckless driving
The Health Ministry is to formulate a system whereby an
errant motorist who injures a victim will be called upon to foot
the latter’s medical bill. According to a Ministry spokesman,
the Government spends between Rs. 5 and 10 million on a single
such victim during his or her period of hospitalization.
It is said that more often than not the victim is a
breadwinner and ends up becoming a dependent due to being maimed
or carrying other serious injuries. This, while the perpetrator
gets away with a fine. On the face of it, the move is a logical
one especially given the statistics showing some 50,000 road
accidents annually. Though all may more fall into the ‘serious’
category, a sizeable percentage of this would be ICU cases where
the Government would be footing the bill which would be a not
inconsiderable sum from the health budget.
According to the proposed move, the offender will have to
reimburse the entirety of the hospital bill that is meant to act
as a deterrent. But nothing is mentioned about the consequences
Sure, affluent motorists may be able to fork any sum. But
what about the ordinary lorry and bus driver? Could they meet a
medical bill of Rs.5 million? Therefore the remedy lies in
stringent court sentences to arrest reckless driving on our
roads leading to accidents.