Sinhala and Tamil New Year allowance: Rs 5,000 For Samurdhi and Low Income Families
By Thameenah Razeek and Treshan Fernando
The Government has issued a circular to provide a Rs 5,000 allowance to low income families and Samurdhi beneficiaries, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, for the upcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year. But this has caused a problem for Samurdhi Officers.
The circular states that the beneficiaries will be Samurdhi recipient families, low-income earners, elder’s pension receivers, those receiving the disability allowance, kidney disease, families with persons receiving centenary complete elder’s allowance and families eligible through submitting an appeal.
The circular states that in the event a house is registered under one number in the electoral register, but holds one or more families in addition to the main family in that household; such families will also be eligible to receive the allowance.
Meanwhile, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said, in a press release, that the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication will carry out the provision of the Rs 5000 allowance to identified families at Grama Niladhari Level. Samurdhi Officers have been requested to provide the allowance before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
In the meantime, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena urged shop owners to keep their shops open in the coming days as people can purchase goods in the next few days after receiving the allowance.
Meanwhile, Samurdhi Officers have been thrown into a quandary over the sudden decision.
The Samurdhi Development Officers Union raised concerns yesterday (11) over the Rs 5,000 Sinhala and Tamil New Year allowance and the difficulty in disbursing the allowance at short notice.
They have written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in this connection.
The allowance was confirmed on 10 April in a circular released by the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s office promising Rs 5,000 to low-income families for the Sinhala and Hindu New Year.
The letter stated that since the decision was taken at short notice, several problems could arise, especially for Samurdhi officials. They also raised several other issues in the letter. They claimed that this programme would cost approximately Rs 20 billion and asked if the Ministry of Finance would be able to allocate these funds by today (12).
If the funds were approved, they queried how it would transferred and distributed. The Union argued that this rushed programme would cause significant financial problems to Samurdhi officials and the administration.
The Union further said that they support the decision to provide the Rs 5,000 allowance but that they believe the programme should have been planned out. They added that such programmes should be enacted without unnecessarily distressing Samurdhi officials.
The letter urged all future projects be conducted with a proper mechanism to avoid such issues going forward.