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European Parliament Delegation Visits Sri Lanka

Feb 26, 2011 5:21:21 AM - thesundayleader.lk
A visiting delegation from the European Parliament for Relations with South Asia plans to meet with Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, delegate head Jean Lambert said on Friday.
“We did have an invite from Rajapaksa for constructive comments. We will definitely take him up on that offer,” Lambert said.
The delegation had decided to visit Sri Lanka in order to observe the situation on the ground post war. As such, they said that the recently suspended GSP Plus concession was not an issue they were concerned with.
They did, however, voice concerns that those being resettled were not being provided with adequate assistance. “We are not clear on who accompanies these people when they are being transferred from Menik Farm, and who will help them access services [needed to rebuild],” Lambert said.
They also voiced some reservations on the financial assistance provided to the newly resettled. Jaffna, which is facing a spike in sand prices, was cited as an example. A spike in sand prices will increase the cost of constructing homes, Lambert explained.
“If there is a spike, what happens to the grant money allocated?” she asked.
In addition, there are concerns on issues of land title and how they are being resolved.
Lambert and the delegates skirted around questions raised on the war crimes allegations levelled by the United Nations. “It was not something that was raised to us by any organisation,” she said. However, Lambert said she had voiced concerns on the effectiveness of the judicial system and improving the detection rate, quality and training of the local police force to the Secretary of Defence and several Ministers.
The seven member delegation had visited the North, specifically Menik Farm, Jaffna and Vavuniya. They expressed satisfaction with the development work being carried out, as well as the resettlement process. However they expressed their wishes to visit Sri Lanka at a later date, to see how many of the expressed plans had materialised.