President issues directives to implement Samurdhi assistance program to empower low income people

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the relevant officials to implement the Samurdhi assistance program to empower low income people without allowing it to become a burden to the country.

The President gave these instructions to the officials at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat Yesterday afternoon (24) regarding the future plans of the State Ministry of Samurdhi, Home Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilization.

The President pointed out that poverty and social inequality can be reduced by opening up new avenues of income for low-income earners and making them higher-income earners.

“Therefore, the Samurdhi program should be implemented giving priority to eradicate poverty and should be based on increasing the income of every family, developing the rural economy and strengthening the people centered economy,” he emphasized.

“The annual expenditure on Samurdhi benefits is Rs. 50 billion. That money should be an investment to the country. A program to free the Samurdhi recipient from the subsidy mentality and turn him into a micro entrepreneur should be planned expeditiously,” the President has instructed the officials further pointing out the need for proper follow up.

“A program that benefits the country should be formulated while keeping the empowered Samurdhi beneficiary with the Samurdhi program. Regulation is mandatory to benefit from microfinance schemes. Understanding financial literacy is an important role in microfinance institutions. It is important to base the development of the home economy on the backdrop of people’s enthusiasm for social change. Concessional programs provided by banks to people who faced the COVID-19 challenge to boost their economy can lead to a better economy for the people and the country.”

Joining the discussion Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa highlighted the need to identify groups that must actually receive the Samurdhi benefits.

The Prime Minister said that microfinance loans had become a problem and should be regulated by a Debt Regulatory Authority Act of some other Act.

Former Minister and head of Presidential Task Force to alleviate poverty, Basil Rajapaksa joining the discussion said issues pertaining to land rights must be resolved promptly, as it is a main goal of the government.

The President’s Media Division said discussions at length were held pertaining to handing over the ownership of land under the Department of Wildlife Conservation to the Divisional Secretariat once again, in order to handover the rightful ownership to the public. Development of the household economy by cultivating crops such as coconut, mango and jackfruit was also discussed at length.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, Secretary to the President PB Jayasundera, Finance Secretary SR Attygalle, officials of institutions belonging to the Ministry of State and senior officials representing the banking sector were also present.

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