Donors and international lending organisations give aid to governments and not to persons, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday (4).
Samaraweera, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse`s chief presidential campaign organizer, said the Opposition leader and UNP presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe had said at a number of campaign meeting that The present government has not been able to obtain foreign aid and such aid would be given to the country only if he comes to power. This he said was an attempt by Wickremesinghe to mislead the people.
Samaraweera said `Aid donor nations and international lending organizations do not give aid to persons but to the governments of recipient countries. But Ranil Wickremesinghe is only trying to mislead the public. Even the former US Secretary of State Richard Armitage had recently said they were not concerned as to who was in power when aid was given. The aid package pledged to Sri Lanka, when Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister,
at the Tokyo aid group meeting in 2003 for 4.5 billion US Dollars was for a period from 2003 to 2006 and of this a sum 3.3 billion Dollars was through repayable loans. Only 735.9 million dollars were grants. A bigger percentage of the aid was pledged by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan. The government has obtained 431 million Dollars in 2003, 1022 million Dollars in 2004 and 277 million US Dollars by September 30, 2005 but refused to accept the World Bank aid on poverty alleviation, restructuring and macro economic management due to the conditions attached to the loan,` Samaraweera said.
Therefore Samaraweera said the statements made Ranil Wickremesinghe about his ability to get aid was only to hide the fact that he agreed to conditions such as selling water by introducing a new Act in Parliament, retrenching 300,000 employees in the public sector, privatizing the People`s Bank and creating a revenue authority replacing the Inland Revenue, Excise and Customs Departments. But the UPFA government had refused to accept the aid on such conditions and only accepted aid which was not with such strings attached.