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UK Parliament lauds Sri Lanka’s social protection systems

Britain on Tuesday said that the existing social protection systems, including the Samurdhi programme, provide essential support to the most vulnerable communities in Sri Lanka and will be crucial at this difficult time.

In response to a question by Conservative MP that what recent assessment that the State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs has made of the effectiveness of the Samurdhi programme in Sri Lanka, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) Vicky Ford said that “The Sri Lankan authorities have taken a number of measures to help support the public, including an economic relief package of Rs. 200bn ($1bn) announced in January 2022.”

“The UK recognises the economic challenges that Sri Lanka is facing. We continue to monitor the economic situation in Sri Lanka closely, including the impact economic issues are having on food security and livelihoods,” she said in a written answer to UK Parliament

She also stated“This package includes a Rs. 5000 ($25) monthly allowance for public sector employees, pensioners and disabled soldiers. Under the scheme, Rs. 1000 ($5) has been allocated to the beneficiaries of the government’s largest welfare programme ‘Samurdhi’, and a number of taxes and levies have been removed from essential foods and medicines. The Government of Sri Lanka agreed on May 2 to provide a special three-month cash allowance from May to July worth Rs. 13.36 billion to 3.34 million families affected by the current economic crisis, with funding from the World Bank of which the UK is a major donor.

“We regularly discuss economic policy with the Sri Lankan Government and encourage efforts to improve economic growth and protect vital economic interests such as key industries, commodities, employment and livelihoods,” she added.

In response to a question that the human development and social economic indicators of Sri Lanka in comparison to other South East Asian countries, Ms Ford “We continue to encourage a peaceful, democratic, and inclusive approach to resolving the current political and economic challenges.”

She said that the most recent available data (2020) for Sri Lanka indicates that it performs well against South Asia neighbours on high-level human development and social economic indicators, particularly infant mortality rates.

“However, the available data does not capture the severity of the current economic crisis and impact of recent economic shocks such as Covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the floating of the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) and Sri Lanka’s debt default in May 2022. We have not made a recent assessment comparing Sri Lankan indicators to those in South East Asian countries,” she added

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