COLOMBO (News 1st); The Welfare Benefits Board said that the first installment of the Aswesuma Welfare Benefit Program will be made available for the beneficiaries during this week.
The Welfare Benefits Board said on Wednesday (2) that 95% of the beneficiaries have opened the relevant bank accounts with state banks, and the process will continue until it is completed.
Accordingly, the installment will be made available as Rs. 15,000/-, Rs. 8,500/-, and Rs. 5,000/- according to the group classification.
The Welfare Benefits Board went on to note that appeals and objections with regard to the Aswesuma Welfare Benefits Program will be evaluated in order to select those who are suitable for the program.
Under the Aswesuma Welfare Benefit Program, funds will be deposited directly into the accounts of the two million beneficiaries.
The Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to continue to provide the Samurdhi allowance, for families that were receiving the Samurdhi benefit and are not eligible for the Aswasuma welfare benefits scheme.
Minister Shehan Semasinghe requested the people to open bank accounts as soon as possible to obtain the benefits.
The Sri Lankan government decided to introduce the new Aswesuma Welfare Benefit Program to replace the Samurdhi program.
However, the new program has led to a plethora of issues.
Due to issues that arose with regard to the process to identify the beneficiaries, provisions was made for the submission of objections and appeals.
Following a data analysis, letters are being issued to the families that were selected for the Aswesuma Welfare Benefit Program.
Beneficiaries are required to produce this letter to one of the four state banks in order to open the bank accounts to access the Aswesuma Funds.
However, many Sri Lankans who are eligible for this program had not yet been able to open the necessary bank accounts.
In order to address the issue, the government decided that the branches of state banks would be open during the week and the on Esala Poya to expedite the program.
On Monday (31), the Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers decided that 393,097 individuals who enjoy Samurdhi benefits at present and have not been selected although have been applied for benefits under the programme, to be paid the benefits under the Samurdhi programme until the appeals and objections review process is totally completed under the Aswesuma programme.
What is ‘Aswesuma’?
Sri Lanka is once again facing a wave of protests against the government, and this time its about a new welfare benefit program that will be introduced from the 1st of July.
On the 9th of May 2023, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe gave out directions for the initiation of “Aswesuma” welfare benefit payments, which are scheduled to commence from July 1st.
Accordingly, these payments will be distributed among four social categories, namely transitional, vulnerable, poor, and extremely poor.
Additionally, the usual allowances for the differently-abled, elderly, and kidney patients will also be provided
According to the President’s Media Division, the distribution of funding is as follows:
– 400,000 transitional beneficiaries will receive Rs.2,500per month until December 31, 2023
– 400,000 vulnerable beneficiaries will receive Rs.5,000 per month until March 31, 2024
– 800,000 poor beneficiaries will receive Rs.8,500 per month
– Extremely poor beneficiaries will receive Rs.15,000 per month for three years beginning July 1, 2023.
Currently, 72,000 differently abled people getting welfare benefits will each receive Rs.5000.00 per month, 39,150 people receiving kidney support will each receive Rs.5000.00, and 416,667 people receiving senior assistance would each receive Rs.2000.00, said the President’s Media Division.
Effective from July, the Welfare Benefits Board has implemented a direct crediting system, ensuring that beneficiaries’ bank accounts are directly credited with the necessary welfare benefits.
This encompasses the correction of any previous errors in social welfare benefits and the continuation of existing Government assistance programs such as Samurdhi and Elderly Assistance, said the President’s Media Division.
The ‘Aswesuma’ welfare benefit program, initiated by the President as part of the social safety net to alleviate the ongoing economic crisis, is being overseen by Minister of State for Finance Shehan Semasinghe, with involvement from various Government agencies, including the Ministry of Finance.
B. Wijayaratne, the Chairman of the Welfare Benefit Board was quoted by the PMD saying that the selection of ‘Aswesuma’ beneficiaries is carried out through a centralized data base, ensuring that political affiliations do not influence the assistance provided.
However, protests erupted over the selection of names for the Aswesuma welfare benefit program claiming that the surveys carried out to identify the worst affected people were based on inaccurate information.
Protests were staged by people who previously enjoyed the Samurdhi Benefit Program, but have been struck off the Aswesuma Welfare Benefit Program.
The protesting groups claim that those who are eligible to receive assistance from the state have been eliminated from the beneficiaries lists, and those who do not qualify for the program have been added as the new beneficiaries.
As protests mouted, the government decided to call for appeals and objections.
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