Aug 16, Colombo: The government today assured that the Samurdhi allowance given for low income families has not been suspended as reported by some media.
Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms and Co Cabinet spokesman Gayantha Karunatilaka at the cabinet press briefing in Colombo today (16th Aug.) said the government has not taken any decision to cut the Samurdhi allowance and President Maithripala has emphasized on continuing the benefit with no changes.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Social Welfare SB Dissanayake said the Cabinet Sub-Committee has decided to suspend and reconsider the results of a survey conducted by the Samurdhi Development Department to decide on who should receive Samurdhi benefits.
At a media briefing held at the Ministry today, Minister Dissanayake said the decision was taken due to serious errors made during entering the data of the survey into the computer and the data will be checked by the relevant Divisional Secretaries in the future.
Accordingly, the benefits given to Samurdhi recipients will not be subjected to any change in the future, Minister Dissanayake confirmed.
"This survey was carried out according to a decision taken by the government in 2015 under the 100-day program, since the Ministry has received a number of complaints that people not qualified are receiving Samurdhi benefits while the eligible people are not receiving any benefit," the Minister explained.
During the survey, 830,000 new applications had been received from Samurdhi beneficiaries. In addition there are 1,423,661 people are receiving Samurdhi assistance, the Minister noted.
According to Minister Dissanayake, the overall responsibility for this survey was entrusted to the Department of Census and Statistics. Also, UNESCO and the World Bank supported the survey and following discussions with them, a multi-faceted poverty testing system commonly used in the world for poverty measurements were used for the survey.
Accordingly, a 17-page questionnaire based on 6 key factors and 29 sub indicators was given to those who received Samurdhi benefits and to the new Samurdhi applicants.
The Minister explained that it took a long time to enter the data of 2.25 million people in to the computer and the Divisional Secretariats had to contract out the task.
He said the government published the reports obtained according to the computerized data. However, the Ministry had received a large number of complaints against the reports stating that some eligible beneficiaries have lost their benefits.
The Ministry has reviewed 200 complaints and found that 41 had serious errors. In addition there were 11 occasions the results were not entered correctly.
Therefore, the cabinet subcommittee appointed to look into the Samurdhi survey decided this morning to void all the results and to re-examine the information one by one by the Divisional Secretariat.
Until the re-examination of data is completed the cabinet subcommittee decided to continue to provide Samurdhi benefits with no changes, the Minister said.