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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Usaid Launches National Anti-Corruption

VZCZCXRO8688
PP RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #1114/01 2251112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131112Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6610
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0345
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7328
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5443
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3964
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1264
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4032
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3118
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7920
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5569
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0360
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2258
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001114

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS, TREASURY FOR LESLIE HULL, MCC FOR S
GROFF, D TETER, D NASSIRY AND E BURKE, USAID FOR R
HOWELL/ANE/IR, ELIZABETH HUME/CMM, BARBARA SMITH/DG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID KCOR PGOV PREL ECON CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: USAID LAUNCHES NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION
ACTION PLAN

REF: COLOMBO 000779

1. SUMMARY: The final version of the USAID-sponsored
National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), which outlines
key steps the Government and private sector can take to
address corruption, was presented at the Bandaranaike
Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) on July 28 as
part of the National Conference on Anti-Corruption. The
event, including a speech by Charge, received broad
television and newspaper coverage. The NACAP is a key
component of the USAID-sponsored Sri Lanka Anti-Corruption
Program (ACP), designed to help the Government of Sri Lanka
(GSL) and civil society organizations combat corruption and
monitor the use of tsunami and other government expenditures.
While events such as these help raise awareness of the issue
and create public demand for better governance, the lack of
senior-level GSL participation in the event may signal a lack
of political will that may limit progress in combating the
problem. End Summary.

LAUNCH OF ANTI-CORRUPTION ACTION PLAN
-------------------------------------

2. The final version of the NACAP was presented at the BMICH
on July 28 as part of the National Conference on
Anti-Corruption. The NACAP, drafted over the past 18 months
by the Anti-Corruption Program's Consultative Council,
outlines steps that the Government, civil society, private
sector, media, and donors can take to improve accountability
and reduce corruption. The audience included NGO and civil
society leaders as well as members of the legal community.
The event was initially planned as an opportunity to present
the NACAP to high-level GSL officials. However, despite
intensive efforts by Embassy to recruit a senior official to
receive the report, none of the high-level invitees attended.
The event, including a speech by Charge, received broad
television and newspaper coverage.

PLAN'S ORIGIN: PART OF TSUNAMI RELIEF
-------------------------------------

3. The NACAP is a key component of the Sri Lanka
Anti-Corruption Program (ACP). The ACP was designed to help
the GSL and civil society organizations combat corruption and
monitor the use of tsunami assistance funds. As part of its
$135 million tsunami recovery and reconstruction program in
Sri Lanka, USAID provided $2.3 million to the ACP. Key ACP
partners include the Auditor General's Department and the
Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or
Corruption. The ACP has been involved in conducting more
than 100 workshops, seminars, and conferences in
tsunami-affected districts, raising public awareness of

SIPDIS
corruption through broadcast TV, radio spots, and children's
books, and collaborating with the Auditor General's
Department on new methods and techniques of investigative
auditing.

CIVIL SOCIETY DECRIES PERVASIVE CORRUPTION
------------------------------------------

4. At a May 2007 roundtable hosted by Ambassador (reftel),
participants from government, civil society organizations,
the private sector, and media described corruption as endemic
at all levels of Sri Lankan Government and widespread in
dealings between business and government. Participants noted
a pervasive culture of corruption, coupled with lack of
public awareness of its consequences, and agreed that
existing anti-corruption bodies lack the financial or
institutional strength to effectively address the problem.

5. COMMENT: The lack of high level Government participation

COLOMBO 00001114 002 OF 002


at this event was disappointing and is symptomatic of the
lack of political will lamented by civil society activists.
Events such as these, however, help raise awareness of the
issue, sensitize the public, and hopefully, create public
demand for better governance.
MOORE

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