|Saturday, 3 August 2002|
by Uditha Kumarasinghe
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday observed that at a time the country was facing economic difficulty and shouldering a debt burden, the Samurdhi movement played a key role without being a strain on the state coffers in providing a valuable service to the poor.
The Premier who was the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony of the Samurdhi Housing Development Lottery draw at the BMICH said that Samurdhi while offering subsidies to the poor has created income generating avenues to put the poor on their feet.
He said the Samurdhi program has offered many benefits to the poor. The introduction of this housing lottery has fulfilled a long felt need in the Samurdhi movement by effectively finding alternative income ways to develop the economy. If the Government has no ability to provide funds, attention should be focused on alternative ways to collect such funds.
The Samurdhi Ministry has successfully stood up to this challenge and generated funds to commence this housing lottery. The Ministry has already constructed 400 houses to overcome the shelter problem of poor.
The Premier said before the Samurdhi movement commenced, late President J.R.Jayawardene took initiatives to provide food stamps to the poor in 1978. As its second step, late President R.Premadasa implemented the Jana Saviya program to assist the poor. The former PA Government commenced the Samurdhi movement by studying the outcome of these two programs.
Meanwhile President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga vested this Samurdhi portfolio to Minister S.B.Dissanayake. He has performed his duty with great success by assisting poor to overcome their poverty. The Premier appreciated the commitment and the dedication made by Minister Dissanayake to transform the Samurdhi as one of the key poverty alleviation schemes in the world.
The new Government formed in December last year, appointed another Minister for Samurdhi portfolio who has a very good understanding of the Jana Saviya program. Therefore Minister Dissanayake has an able assistant to help in his task to achieve the goals set up by the Samurdhi movement.
Agriculture,Livestock and Samurdhi Minister S.B.Dissanayake said the great assistance provided by the Prime Minister has enable the Samurdhi movement to move another step further. At present, Samurdhi has provided a key solution for the lack of capital, the major problem faced in poverty alleviation programs.
Minister Dissanayake said at present a sum of Rs.10 billion has been saved in the Samurdhi banks for the welfare of poor. Therefore the poor should be determined to stand their own feet. Under this housing program, 100 houses will be constructed monthly at a cost of Rs.15 million.
At present an environment has been created to provide necessary protection and strength to the poor through Samurdhi by eliminating politics, the Minister added.
Samurdhi Minister R.A.D.Sirisena said Samurdhi is not a mere subsidy program. The intention of the Samurdhi is to empower the poor by pulling them out from poverty. The objective of the Samurdhi Ministry is to change the destiny of the poor by providing them a permanent source of income. The Premier has also lent his unstinted support to take forward this creative program of Minister Dissanayake.
Produced by Lake House