Sri Lanka Launches its Strongest Social Security Program Yet


Presidential Director General (Community Affairs) Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon stated that around Rs. 200 billion has been disbursed in 2023 solely to provide relief to the people affected by the economic crisis.

He also noted that the total number of relief beneficiaries as of March 31, 2024, is 1,854,308.

President Director General (Community Affairs) Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon made this statement while addressing the media today (08).

Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon, further commented:

The government recognizes its responsibility to alleviate the hardships faced by the population amidst the significant economic challenges of 2021 and 2022. In the year 2023 alone, a significant amount of Rs. 184,098.27 million is required for various aids, loans, and allowances under the Samurdhi program, catering to seniors, disabled individuals, patients with kidney disorders, and other relief needs.

Moreover, the government’s total expenditure on social welfare initiatives in 2023, including appeals and outstanding payments, totals approximately Rs.189,650.95 million (189.6 billion).

In February 2024, a sum of Rs.1,813 million was distributed to those who were previously left out during the initial relief distribution. Additionally, a further allocation of Rs. 13,697.35 million is set aside following the review of appeals, with funds directed towards impoverished individuals.

When considering the allocation for Samurdhi loans, the government’s total expenditure on social safety measures in 2023 amounts to Rs. 199,608.62 million, nearly Rs. 200 billion.

Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed office in July 2022 until December 2023 (a span of 17 months), the Samurdhi Development Department has disbursed Rs. 129.93 billion, with Rs. 65.91 billion allocated for subsidies benefiting the underprivileged. Additionally, Rs. 4.52 billion were earmarked for social security payments covering various life events such as births, marriages, deaths, illnesses, and scholarships. Furthermore, the Samurdhi Bank extended loans totalling Rs. 59.5 billion during this period.

Furthermore, this year, the government has introduced nutritional programs for schoolchildren, support initiatives for expectant mothers, and distributed 20 kilograms of rice free of charge to impoverished families. On International Women’s Day, measures were implemented to reduce the financial burden on women by offering loans under the “Liya Saviya” program, initiated by the President, at a reduced interest rate of 12%.

In addressing the shortcomings of previous programs like Janasaviya and Samurdhi, the government is committed to eliminating corruption, mismanagement, and bureaucracy while establishing a solid social security framework. As a result, plans are in place to introduce over 30 distinct social security initiatives nationwide, with a focus on transparency and accountability.

In supporting the relief efforts, the World Bank has provided a loan of $200 million, structured for repayment over 30 years, with a grace period of 5 years. It is worth mentioning that by March 31, 2024, the total number of beneficiaries under the relief program is expected to reach 1,854,308.

Presidential Director General Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon stated that nearly Rs. 200 billion was spent in 2023 to provide relief to those affected by the economic crisis. As of March 31, 2024, there were 1,854,308 relief beneficiaries. The government has allocated funds for various aids, loans, and allowances under the Samurdhi program, including initiatives for seniors, disabled individuals, patients with kidney disorders, and other relief needs. There has been an emphasis on transparency and accountability in social welfare programs, with plans to introduce over 30 new initiatives. The World Bank has also provided a $200 million loan to support relief efforts.

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