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The following answers were sent to LakbimaNews in response to questions about the latest concerns about NGO activity.

1.The CID has questioned NPC Chairman Hehan Perera about his funding sources. How do you view this development?

It’s Jehan Perera. I have no idea what the questions are about, so cannot comment. However I have long advocated closer monitoring of NGO activity, in terms of ensuring results in accordance with project proposals and good value for money. I believe such monitoring should be conducted through established institutions with clear mandates, that ensure accountability to the Sri Lankan people by donors giving money on their behalf as well as those implementing projects for their sake.

This has not happened in the past. Apart from government structures not having either the proper powers or capacity – which is presumably why the CID has been called in for something that I hope is not really criminal – we also had a government that developed a culture of abdicating state responsibility. For instance – to anticipate one of your other questions – many people gave money to the LTTE Peace Secretariat with the explicit approval and encouragement of the 2002-2003 government. That government – working indeed through the Sri Lankan Peace Secretariat – ensured that even money in theory given to the Sri Lankan Peace Secretariat was used by NGOs, with little government supervision.

My efforts to ensure proper inquiry into this sort of activity were not encouraged at the time. I attach a copy of an article that I wrote in 2007 which I hope you can publish in full at some stage.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2011
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