US Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a 20 per cent cut in American aid to Colombo, a move reflecting the unease in their ties over issues related to human rights, reconstruction and political integration in Sri Lanka after the end of the civil war.
It is believed to be the highest drop for any South Asian country in Kerry’s budgetary proposals which was sent to Congress last week for its approval.
In actual term, he has proposed $11-million in aid to Sri Lanka, which, according to a senior State Department official, is a “drop of 20 per cent” from the actual spending in the 2012 fiscal.
“This reflects both the fact that we had 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.
“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,” the official told requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press.
While the actual US development assistance to Sri Lanka in 2012 was $8 million, Kerry has proposed about $6 million for 2014.
He has proposed similar amount of development assistance to Bangladesh from $81.6 million in 2012 to $80.9 million in 2014m, and has proposed substantial increase in US aid to Maldives — Sri Lanka’s neighbour.
Majority of the US fund to Sri Lanka would go into key projects related to judicial reform and increasing Maldives counter-terrorism efforts.
“India and the US are working closely on Maldives,” the official said.