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Tsunami aid: World Bank and Oz Govt at loggerheads

MEDIA RELEASE: August 22, 2005.

Tsunami aid: World Bank and Australian Government at loggerheads.


As little as $125 million of the pledged $1 billion in tsunami funds pledged by the Australian Government for tsunami relief is going to Aceh according to the World Bank.

Joe Lietman, Manager of the World Bank Multi Donor Trust Fund for tsunami relief in Aceh stated on Friday 19th August “…it's really maybe an eighth of the initial pledge that will actually go to the people of Aceh”.

The World Banks Lietman explained “It'd be good to look at the Australian contribution, and maybe ask where it's going, because the initial public impression was ‘oh it's a billion dollars for Aceh’. When you dissect that, half of it is soft loans that the Government may or may not take up, but they certainly don’t need for Aceh, and then the $500-million in grants – only less than a quarter of that will go to Aceh, and the remainder will go to pursue broader strategic interests of the Indonesian and Australian Governments, throughout Indonesia”.

The Australian Government aid spokesman, Bruce Billson has directly contradicted the World Bank suggesting “Some of the assistance and a large proportion of that funding is going directly into the immediate Banda Aceh area, but other areas of assistance is designed to benefit Banda Aceh but would have broader positive outcomes for Indonesia as a whole” said Billson.

The refusal of Australia to nominate precisely the quantity and geographic location of where tsunami funds are being used appears there may be some substance to the World Bank claims.

So how much is really getting to Aceh? According to AID/WATCH research, just $50 million of the $1 billion has been allocated to Aceh whilst other funds totalling $175 million have been allocated to other parts of Indonesia.

AID/WATCH is calling on the Australian Government to come clean with the exact amount it plans to dedicate to the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh where Australian taxpayers – who fund the Australian aid program – believe the $1 billion was dedicated.


ENDS


AID/WATCH is an independent watchdog and environmental advocacy organisation exposing the devastating environmental, social, and economic effects of Australia’s aid and trade abroad.

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