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Govt will never abandon rural development - President

COLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated that despite the recent gruesome LTTE bombings and the resulting carnage, the Government will never reverse its planned development projects in the villages in pursuit of a developed and prosperous village.

The President said that when the LTTE is defeated in the North and the East and is made to bend down on their knees there, the LTTE in sheer frustration is striving hard to incite and instigate the civilian polity and antagonise them.

“The people however, will not be antagonised and driven to violence. Neither will the Government lose its interest in defeating terrorism,” he said.

President Rajapaksa also affirmed that in realisation of the utmost importance in the country’s poverty eradication programme, he will never ever abolish the Samurdhi project, but will further consolidate it, retaining it under his own ministry.

President Rajapaksa made this affirmation when he presided at a host of ceremonies pertaining to the Samurdhi Movement, including the presentation of cheques to the Samurdhi Housing Lottery beneficiaries, the pinning of the first flag to the President to mark the World Anti-Smoking and Anti-Alcohol day which falls on May 30, handing over of ownership of 44 houses to Samurdhi beneficiaries under the ‘Diriya Piyasa’ programme and the awarding of ‘Sipdora Shichyathva’ scholarships to 25 students, at Temple Trees yesterday.

“I have much faith in the Samurdhi project. However, there was an unwarranted phobia created by some quarters that the Samurdhi was to be scrapped. The Samurdhi will never ever be scrapped. We will further consolidate it,” the President said.

He however pointed out that if the last Presidential election differed, based on what was said by the UNP at the election campaign, there was certainly a possibility of it being scrapped.

Within the last 18 months, 99 per cent of the pledges given in the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ has been already fulfilled. The highest budget allocation this time, has been for the Samurdhi.

“We have increased the Samurdhi subsidy by 50 per cent. A Samurdhi beneficiary expectant mother receives a ‘Nutritious Pack’ (Poshana Malla). She receives an enhanced allowance of Rs. 5,000, instead of the rupees 2,000 received earlier.

The number of Scholarships and their values have been doubled. The ‘death Allowance’ too has been doubled to Rs.10,000. The ‘Self-Employment’ loan has also been increased to rupees 100,000,” he noted.

The President pointed out that today Samurdhi has been placed under the ‘Nation Building’ Ministry and combined with the ‘Jathika Saviya’ programme.

Its leadership is in the able hands of inspiring and rural leaders, in the calibre of Ministers Jagath Pushpakumara of Thanamalwila, S.M. Chandrasena of Anuradhapura, D.M. Dassanayake of Anamaduwa, Gunarathna Weerakone of Karandeniya, Susantha Punchinilame of Ratnapura and Rohitha Abeygunawardena of Kalutara.

“These rural leaders certainly understand the woes, trials and tribulations encountered by the poverty-stricken rural folk. In another five to six years time, Samurdhi will grow from strength to strength and produce wonderful results,” the President added.

President Rajapaksa noted that some were anticipating his Government would fall on to their laps. They go overseas, betray and under-estimate the Government and its sovereignty, by making wild allegations of Human Rights violations and suppression of media freedom. “They forget that they have to come back and opt for the franchise of the people,” the President added.

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