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Samurdhi has played pivotal role in alleviating poverty - Mahindananda Aluthgamage

Newly appointed Samurdhi and Poverty Alleviation Deputy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage yesterday stressed that the Samurdhi Movement introduced in 1994 on a concept of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has played a leading role to alleviate poverty in the country. However he said the Movement has yet to reach its set targets.

The Deputy Minister after assuming duties in his new office said that the Samurdhi Movement was established with the intention of alleviating poverty and uplift the living conditions of under privileged. At the beginning of the Samurdhi programme, subsidies were granted to a total of 2.1 million low income families. At present this has been reduced to 1.85 million. However the President's objective was not to grant subsidies to these 2.1 million low income families forever.

Her intention was to increase the income level of these low income families and reduce the total number of Samurdhi beneficiary families sytematically once they reached a certain income generating level, he said.

After 11 years, only a small amount of Samurdhi beneficiary families have been reduced from its total amount. This is a good indication. But, the Samurdhi Movement has not yet reached its expected objective.

There should be constant dialogue with all those who work within the Movement to bring it towards its expected target, sucessfully the Deputy Minister said.

Samurdhi and Poverty Alleviation Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said in a situation where attempts are being made by the Ministry to find out solutions to an issue of this nature under a new vision, the appointment of new Deputy Minister is a great strength to bring forward the Ministry's proposed programmes.

The Minister said all Ministry officials should extend their support to conduct the Ministry's poverty alleviation programmes. This is because Samurdhi is a totally different subject to that of other ministerial subjects.

Getting the poor to extricate themselves from the poverty mindset is a most difficult task, she said. "Therefore we should determine to transform the Movement into the key poverty alleviation mechanism of the country while making efforts to increase country's national income," she said.

Samurdhi and Poverty Alleviation Deputy Minister Rohana Dissanayake said the responsibility of the Samurdhi Ministry is to make arrangements to eradicate country's poverty.

Nearly 60 per cent of country's people live below the poverty line. Therefore the key duty of the Ministry and Sri Lanka Samurdhi Authority is to take every possible attempt to alleviate the poverty among low income groups.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Jagath Pushpakumara said the Samurdhi and Agriculture Ministry can make joint efforts to implement a series of programmes to uplift the living conditions of the poor. On the directive of the President the Samurdhi Movement has already commenced several programmes to alleviate poverty among the poor.



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