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Samagi Jana Balawegeya highlights plight of daily wage/low-income earners

  • Urges Govt. to provide effective relief 

By Pamodi Waravita

The main Opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegeya, yesterday (26) called for effective relief to be provided to daily wage and low-income earners who have been continuously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

“The Government said that they cannot go for a lockdown as it would affect daily wage earners. However, even without a lockdown, low-income people are the most affected by this pandemic. Where is their promised relief from leasing payments? Are low-interest loans given to them for their businesses? Can they even buy the resources needed for their small businesses? Can a bakery owner find gas these days?” questioned SJB MP Kabir Hashim at a press conference held yesterday.

Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle told The Morning this week that steps are being taken to allocate the money needed for the Government’s programme to pay an allowance of Rs. 2,000 to low-income families affected by the prevailing Covid-19-related lockdown situation in the country, as per requests made by the relevant district secretariats (DSs).

However, Hashim questioned whether Rs. 2,000 is sufficient, as the cost of daily life has increased exponentially in the past few months.

“We told the Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal that when money is printed, it leads to inflation and a higher cost of living. Companies have been forced to increase the prices of their goods on a monthly basis. Even local goods such as chilli powder have become increasingly expensive,” noted Hashim.

According to the circular issued by the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation, only low-income families who do not receive any allowance from the Government are eligible to receive this allowance, and government employees, retirees, Samurdhi beneficiaries, elderly persons, centenarians, and differently abled persons who are also beneficiaries of monthly governmental payments are not eligible for it.