Economist and UNP MP, Dr. Harsha de Silva, yesterday described as ‘unfortunate’ the proposal by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, for a 20% cut in aid to Colombo, especially as the USA is important to Sri Lanka and was crucial in helping the SL government overcome the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “The Government of Sri Lanka said it doesn’t matter much, because the amounts cut off are very small. But it is the thinking which matters – it doesn’t matter whether the amount is big or smalless.
It is the US who dried up the LTTE’s global funding by banning the organization. They also shared their military intelligence with us, which helped us win the war,” he told Colombo media.
Dr. de Silva also pointed out that the USA is Sri Lanka’s most important trade partner, as it purchases 40% of the apparels produced by the country. “We have to look at the USA as a friend of Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that whether we like it or not, there is American influence in most of Sri Lanka- from carbonated drinks to iPhones and iPads.
He also stressed the importance of needing to build bridges between the two countries, and for Sri Lanka to have a coherent foreign policy.
John Kerry’s proposal to impose a 20 per cent cut in aid to Colombo, is seen as a move that reflects the unease in the US-Sri Lanka ties over issues related to human rights, reconstruction and political integration in Sri Lanka after the end of the civil war.
The Press Trust of India reported: In actual term, Kerry has proposed a US$ 11 million in aid to Sri Lanka, which, according to a senior State Department official, is a “drop of 20%” from the actual spending in the 2012 fiscal.
“This reflects both the fact that we had a difficult time in programming a lot of our money in Sri Lanka. We tried to do a lot in the North to help the IDPs and get back to their normal life and support reconstruction efforts there. But in several cases we had programmes that we were trying to support, to which the government – the military – got quite involved in them and so we were not able to pursue those programmes,” a senior State Department official told PTI.