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Government’s Extensive Relief Efforts Amid Economic Crisis

April 10, Colombo (LNW): Presidential DG (Community Affairs) Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon has provided insights into the Sri Lankan government’s substantial relief efforts to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis, particularly on vulnerable populations. Speaking at a special media statement, Thennakoon outlined the significant expenditures and initiatives undertaken to address the hardships faced by the populace.

In 2023 alone, the government disbursed nearly Rs. 200 billion (approximately USD 1 billion) to provide relief to those affected by the economic downturn. This aid encompassed various forms of assistance, including aids, loans, and allowances under the Samurdhi program, targeting seniors, disabled individuals, patients with kidney disorders, and others in need.

The total expenditure on social welfare initiatives in 2023, including appeals and outstanding payments, amounted to approximately Rs. 189.6 billion. Notably, additional disbursements totaling Rs. 13.7 billion were earmarked following the review of appeals, further aiding impoverished individuals.

Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed office in July 2022, the Samurdhi Development Department has disbursed Rs. 129.93 billion, with substantial allocations for subsidies benefiting the underprivileged. The government has also initiated nutritional schemes for schoolchildren, support initiatives for expectant mothers, and distributed free rice to impoverished families.

Thennakoon emphasized the government’s commitment to eradicating corruption, mismanagement, and bureaucracy in social welfare programs, aiming to establish a transparent and accountable social security framework. Plans are underway to introduce over 30 distinct social security initiatives nationwide, focusing on transparency and accountability.

In support of these relief efforts, the World Bank has extended a loan of USD 200 million, structured for repayment over 30 years, with a grace period of five years. As of March 31, 2024, the total number of beneficiaries under the relief program is projected to reach 1,854,308, highlighting the scope and impact of the government’s relief measures.

Overall, Thennakoon’s statement underscores the government’s concerted efforts to provide essential support to vulnerable populations and alleviate the socioeconomic challenges posed by the economic crisis.

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