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Transforming Samurdhi | Empowering the poor

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed officials not to allow the Samurdhi subsidy to become a burden to the country, but to make it an initiative that empowers low-income families.

Poverty and social inequality can be minimised by opening up new income avenues for the low-income strata of society, thereby making them high-income earners, he said. 

The President emphasised that the Samurdhi programme should be conducted giving priority to eliminating poverty, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

It should be based on factors such as increasing the income of every family, developing the rural economy, and strengthening the people-centric economy, the President added.

He made these remarks during a discussion held to scrutinise future activities of the State Ministry of Samurdhi, Home Economy, Microfinance, Self-employment, Businesses, and Underutilised State Resources Development held at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (24).

Annually, a total sum of Rs. 50 billion is allocated for the Samurdhi programme, the PMD stated.

The President stressed the need to rid Samurdhi beneficiaries of the mentality that it is a handout and to transform them into micro-entrepreneurs immediately. He also highlighted the requirement of follow-up evaluation in this matter.

“A systematic procedure is necessary to keep the empowered Samurdhi beneficiary in the programme and reap benefits for the country along the way. A regulation process is absolutely necessary to make microfinance loans productive. Development of financial literacy is an important task of microfinance institutes.”

The President highlighted the significance of utilising citizens’ enthusiasm for an overall social change to develop the household economy.

“Introduction of new relief programmes by banks for people who are struggling due to setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is vital at this point. They will uplift the lives of people, and (this will) eventually lead to a better economy,” President Rajapaksa added.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out the importance of rightly identifying groups who really deserve Samurdhi benefits. The Prime Minister further said that the issue of microfinance loans has become a central problem which must be managed through a Credit Regulatory Authority Act or an alternative act.

Basil Rajapaksa said the Government should immediately commence a process to solve all issues relating to land ownership, which was one of the prime expectations of the President.

The President said we should initiate a process to uplift the household economy by commencing cultivations such as that of coconut, mango, and jack. It was discussed in detail to immediately begin a scheme to transfer lands under the Department of Wildlife and Forest Conservation to the District Secretariats in order to grant legal title to those having an interest in these lands.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Chairman Basil Rajapaksa, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle, and officials representing institutions under the Ministry of State and Senior Banking Officials attended the meeting.