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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 19:33 GMT
Sri Lanka told to quicken relief
By Dumeetha Luthra
BBC News, Colombo

Hambantota after the tsunami struck
Much of Sri Lanka was devastated by the tsunami
Sri Lanka must speed up its post-tsunami relief effort, the vice president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has insisted.

The official, Liqun Jin, spent two days travelling around the devastated areas to assess the scale of the destruction.

An ADB report estimates the cost of reconstruction at around $1.5 bn.

Mr Jin travelled to the north and east, in addition to holding talks with senior Sri Lankans including the president and the minister of finance.

'Enhance donor confidence'

At the end of his trip Mr Jin said that "much remains to be done" and called on the government for "swift and transparent implementation" of the recovery operation.

Bank estimates put the reconstruction costs at around $1.5bn.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been promised in foreign aid to Sri Lanka.

So far the government says very little of the money pledged has actually been received.

Mr Jin said the ADB was planning to release $150m of funds.

He said that the country had managed to get about 900m in bilateral aid pledges and "the government could enhance donor confidence if they increased the momentum of reconstruction".

He also said the ADB would support any arrangement that would support reconstruction in some of the worst-hit areas in the north and east.

Parts of these areas are controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Norway has been trying to broker a deal between the government and the rebels to ensure aid is distributed to those areas.

The Tigers recently said they were willing to support the current proposal for a joint mechanism - but so far there has been no official response from the government.


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