Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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UNDP supports SL social protection for the vulnerable communities

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has stepped into support the Government of Sri Lanka to enhance social protection measures for the vulnerable communities and ensure sustainable recovery from the current challenges

Considering the impacts of the prevailing economic crisis, in addition to the regular welfare programmes, the Government is in the process of providing additional relief for the most vulnerable groups of the society, a finance ministry report revealed. .

The assistance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank has been mobilised through this repurpose project funds for emergency spending on social protection needs by these two institutions

The Government will be continuing to provide a cash allowance of Rs. 5,000 with an additional top up payment for the “Samurdhi” beneficiaries and other categorical recipients such as elders, disabled persons, and kidney patients, whilst including wait-listed people of those beneficiary categories for the months with effect from May to October 2022.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry had met a visiting United Nations Development Program director and discussed ways to help vulnerable communities in the island, a statement said after the collapse of a currency peg following two years of money printing putting food out of reach for poor people.

“The Foreign Minister and the Deputy Regional Director also discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the UNDP and the Government of Sri Lanka to support social protection measures for the vulnerable communities and ensure sustainable recovery from the current challenges,” a statement from the ministry said.

Sri Lanka has expressed its willingness to work with UNDP and continue its cooperation.

“Deputy Regional Director Bahuet affirmed the continued support and cooperation of the UNDP to Sri Lanka, particularly in the priority areas identified and recovery measures being taken by the Government to overcome the current challenges,” the statement said.

The Finance Ministry is in the process of devising transparent criteria to identify recipients of welfare support to ensure that this assistence is received by the most deserving households.

The improved targeting will enable higher allocations to recipients and will be in the form of cash transfers directly to the bank account of the recipient. This scheme is expected to be implemented in the coming months.

The Government has incurred Rs. 191.2 billion on household subsidies including “Samurdhi“ payments, elder’s allowance, assistance to differently-abled soldiers, food package for pregnant mothers, fertilizer subsidy and school uniforms and text books in the first four months of 2022.

Expenditure on the Samurdhi cash grants provided to low-income families has increased to Rs. 20,679 million for the first four months of 2022 from Rs. 17,27 billion in the same period of 2021 owing to the government .decision to increase the “Samurdhi” allowance by Rs. 1,000 per month.

The Government expenditure on health and nutrition programmes including the medical supplies for the government hospitals has declined by 2.4 percent to Rs. 19.65 billion in the first four months of 2022, compared to Rs. 20.14 billion in the same period of 2021.

The cost of welfare programmes on education such as free textbooks, uniforms and shoes for students of schools in difficult areas in the first four months of 2022 was Rs. 2.59 billion.

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