Jan 01, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will provide a free health insurance policy for all school children from 2017 and the government has allocated Rs. 2.7 billion in this year's budget for the purpose, the island's Finance Minister announced.
The Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake assuring sustained economic development in the New Year said he was delighted to announce the introduction of the benefit for all school children from 2017.
As envisaged in the Budget - 2017 a free health insurance policy certificate worth Rs 200,000 per annum will be provided to each of the over 4.5 million school students from the age of 5 - 19 irrespective of the number of children in a family.
Karunanayake said that Rs 2.7 billion has been set aside for the scheme and it will be worked out through the Ministry of Education shortly.
Each child will be given a policy certificate for Rs 200,000 covering both the in and outpatient services subject to a maximum of Rs 100,000 for hospitalization and Rs 10,000 for outpatient services.
"The major significance of this scheme is it covers all the students whether they study in the government or private schools" said the Minister.
"It is a sigh of relief to parents of entire student population of the country as they need not worry about the continuation of the study of their children in future," the Minister said adding that with the introduction of the free medical insurance the government has given a new impetus to the free education as already there are five welfare programs in place for the well-being of the students.
Distribution of free text books, uniforms, nutritional mid-day meal to needy children, glass of milk to needy students in the primary classes and distribution of a pair of shoes to those who need it are the other welfare benefits implemented by the government.
Minister of Finance further said that as President Maithripala Sirisena has directed that hereafter no schools should be reported which has the shortcoming of the basic needs including desks and chairs. The government has also earmarked a plan to provide the basic infrastructure facilities such as electricity, sanitation and water to remaining 1500 schools in the year 2017 with an additional allocation of Rs 7 billion.
The government in 2016 had increased the allocation to the ministry of Education by three fold than it was in 2014 to provide the basic needs to all 10,000 government schools and this year, Rs. 61 billion worth capital projects will be implemented among the schools to complete the basic needs of all the schools in the country, according to the Government Information Department.
The secretary to the Ministry of Finance Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga expressed the belief that as the allocations have been made to ministries based on the action plan submitted by the respective line ministries from this year all projects earmarked for augmentation of the facilities in schools would be carried out on time. He said that the transfer of funds to projects that are not in their action plans will not be allowed under any circumstances in future under the zero-based budget making process.