ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has aimed at boosting employment opportunities for people with disabilities, targeting 10 percent this year from the current 3 percent, State Social Empowerment Minister Anupa Pasqual has said.
The government data show around 4 percent of the island nation’s 22 million population has some disability while the government has increased the allocations for the disabled to empower them.
Pasqual said the education aid stipend has been doubled to 20,000 rupees, employment assistance allowances are increased to 45,000 rupees from 25,000, and housing allowances have also been raised to 250,000 rupees from 150,000.
“Our aim is to increase the employed people with disability to at least 10 percent this year from the 3 percent. That is our goal,” Pasqual said.
“If you take a country like Singapore, around 30 percent of the disabled are either self employed or have jobs. If you consider Sri Lanka, our data show it is only 3 percent.
“What we are trying to do is to increase employment for the disabled. The number of employed disabled people is very low. Most of them are looked after by their relatives. If we empower them, we can increase the employed disabled to 30 percent from the current 3 percent.”
A new Disability Bill, aimed at safeguarding the rights of the entire disabled community, will be presented to Parliament this year while the government is also looking at harnessing
technology to empower the disabled as they have the potential to make meaningful
contributions to the country’s economic growth,Pasqual said.
The forthcoming disability bill aims to reduce disabled people’s dependence on government support and the bill is expected to be passed in Parliament by year-end, he said.
“The comprehensive legislation seeks to ensure the protection of the rights of disabled
individuals and their empowerment within society. This includes providing access, education
and technology to all members of the disabled community,” the State Minister said.
“The government plans to integrate disabled students with their peers rather than segregating them, facilitating the implementation of this inclusive program.” (Colombo/September 19/2023)