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January 29, 2005

Seminar on Transparency



Sarvodaya was co-organizer of a seminar called “Enhancing Accountability in Post-Tsunami Reconstruction”. This meeting was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, and brought together leading figures from the government, donor and NGO sectors. Its goal was to highlight and discuss the current state of accountability in the governmental and non-governmental sector, in the management and use of tsunami relief and rehabilitation funds, as well as explore possible systems and options for ensuring accountability and transparency.

The Executive Director of Sarvodaya, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne spoke on the importance of voluntary disclosure in the non-governmental sector. Sarvodaya is taking the lead on implementing systems that allow for full transparency and accountability of the use of funds. Of course, accountability is not only to ones donors, but to the people one serves. Sarvodaya plans to set an example in the field of accountability and transparency of operations, by making up-to-date information available on its website. Dr. Ariyaratne also pointed out how many organizations need help developing the capacity to design and implement systems for accountability, and donors should make provisions for this need.

The primary organizer of this event was Transparency International Sri Lanka. Other speakers included Peter Harold, Country Representative of the World Bank, Lalith Weeratunge, member of the governmental Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN) and Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. P. Saranavanamuttu, Executive Director, Center for Policy Alternatives, and the director and executive directors of Transparency International, Sri Lanka. While no concrete plan was agreed to, it was generally acknowledged that the government and civil society sectors had to work together to ensure accountability to donor and to the people. As Mr. Saranavanamuttu concluded, the need for institutionalized systems is great and pressing, and the government has to acknowledge the role that civil society organizations can and must play in public policy decisions. The event was well attended by members of the press and the public.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.