ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s Samurdhi welfare scheme must only be for those actually in need of assistance and those who don’t qualify must be removed from the list of beneficiaries, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday December 01, Wickremesinghe, who is also Minister of Finance, said removing people who don’t need Samurdhi from the list will allow for the funds to go to those who actually need assistance.
“There are many who deserve Samurdhi and are qualified to receive it, but there are also people in there who don’t qualify for it. If we remove them, we can give it to the deserving. I think some people are on that list for 20 years
“So first we’ll have to determine who’s qualified when adding new entrants to the scheme. Some see it as a politicised endeavour. But we really must first give Samurdhi to those who need it,” said Wickremesinghe.
The president said that Sri Lanka, still going through its worst currency crisis in decades, lacks the funds to pay everyone.
“We have taken on this task despite difficulties. What needs to be done here is to develop the economy and society. Some decisions may not turn out to be popular. But parliament must have the strength to do it,” he said.
Samurdhi, Sri Lanka’s largest welfare programme has some 1.7 million beneficiaries, but critics say that, while it is necessary, a not insignificant number of the beneficiaries are people who don’t meet the criteria and are added to the list through political influence.
Presenting the budget on November 14, Wickremesinghe told parliament that in the coming year the government will focus more on providing social welfare benefits to the people who need them most and creating a policy environment to build the private sector as the driving force of the economy. (Colombo/Dec01/2022)