Apr 162013

Leading News from Sri Lanka::

* Sri Lanka not perturbed by U.S. aid cutWed, Apr 17, 2013, 12:01 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 16, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government says the decision taken by the United States Department of State to reduce the aid amount for Sri Lanka will not have any effect on the country’s economy.

A senior government official has said that the U.S. aid cut to Sri Lanka and India reflects the continued economic trends in the U.S. and it has no impact on the Sri Lanka’s US$ 59 billion Sri Lanka economy as the country has already achieved Middle Income Status with a per capita income of US$ 2,836 in 2012.

“US is having its own problems to solve as it has to tackle the terrorism in its own soil,” the government official was quoted as saying by the Government Media Information Unit.

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his budgetary proposals sent to the Congress last week for approval has proposed a 20 percent cut in US aid to Sri Lanka. The reduction is believed to be the highest aid cut that any South Asian country received within his budget proposals.

Kerry, presenting a budget total of US $47.8 billion, which is already a 6% reduction from FY 2012, for the Department of State and USAID, has requested US$ 6 million opposed to the US$ 8 million actual U.S. development assistance granted to Sri Lanka in 2012.

For FY2014 budget request for Sri Lanka for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement remains unchanged at US$ 720,000.

Requested amount for International Military Education & Training reduced to US$ 626,000 from US$ 690,000, and for Foreign Military Financing aid requested was US$ 450,000, down from the US$ 450,000 in FY 2012.

A senior State Department official has anonymously told Indian media the aid cut reflects that US had difficult time in programming a lot of their money in Sri Lanka due to the Sri Lankan military’ involvement in US-funded programs.

“So, we made a decision that Sri Lanka as a middle-income country, and in a country where we are having difficulty in programming, that is a place where we should probably cut that have a lot of own resources,” foreign media reported quoting the U.S. official.

The move to cut aid is however believed to be a reflection of the increasingly souring relationship between the two countries following the adoption of the two UN resolutions sponsored by the U.S. against Sri Lanka.

The US has repeatedly expressed its displeasure in Sri Lanka’s lack of progress toward reconciliation and accountability after the end of the war in May 2009 and is pressuring the Sri Lankan government to conduct a credible independent investigation into the allegations of human rights violations during the last phase of the war.

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