Keep groceries open, provide vouchers for people: Former minister Dr.Harsha

27 March 2020 12:09 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Yohan Perera   

Keeping the groceries open and providing vouchers for the people is a better option rather than providing packages of essential items, former MP Dr. Harsha De Silva said yesterday. Dr. De Silva told Daily Mirror that government should shift its plan taking into considerations the global trend on providing relief for the needy people. 

“Many countries are shifting to a system where vouchers are distributed to the needy people. Government could distribute vouchers to people and make the payments to the grocery stores. This is accepted as a more successful way to provide for the people with an essential goods package designed by someone else for the people,” he said.   

“Out of the 8 million employed in Sri Lanka only three million get a monthly paycheck. There are 1.7 million people who depend on daily wage while 2.5 million people are self employed. They are struggling to survive as a result of curfew imposed. They have no savings. Total cash transfer that is needed to support these people is Rs 8 billion to Rs 20 billion a week,” he said in this twitter message.   

Asked about the steps which Suwaseriya ambulance service to handle panic calls from those who think they have contracted COVID-19, he said the ambulance service has decided to call back those who make panic calls and then attend to other emergency cases.


Out of the 8 million employed in Sri Lanka only three million get a monthly paycheck. There are 1.7 million people who depend on daily wage while 2.5 million people are self employed   

  Comments - 6

  • Neville Saturday, 28 March 2020 04:16 PM

    Learned Dr. suggesting to keep groceries open is b;ind to the fact that main effort at the moment is to avoid people's gathering

    Neville Saturday, 28 March 2020 04:22 PM

    How to select 'needy' people. Everybody will rush for vouchers and if you look carefully they are well to do people. Present system is the best, we can order what we want and what we can afford and the assigned dealer will deliver. Samurdhi beneficiaries are accepted as 'needy" people and they are being looked after by the govt'.

    Hiran D Dias Saturday, 28 March 2020 05:27 PM

    It is surprising that Dr Harsha de Silva seems to have mixed up two objectives: 1. Prevent people from congregating at supermarkets to prevent the spread of the virus 2. Provide a basic food package to the needy who depend on a daily income.

    HS Upali Saturday, 28 March 2020 06:20 PM

    Dr Harsha,Your service is mostly needed now to the nation.

    roland.boniface Saturday, 28 March 2020 09:11 PM

    MP please let me know from where I could buy a loaf of bread in Dehiwela. The color of which even, i have not seen since the 18th of March. Vegetables we did secure yesterday at a price, but that's O.K under the circumstances.

    Trudy Soertsz Saturday, 28 March 2020 10:34 PM

    I agree. If the supermarkets are kept open then crowds won’t gather as they do soon after a curfew is lifted. The grocery packs offered by Sathosa don’t have the necessary ingredients that are required to prepare a meal. And they are permanently out of stock! Also we are yet to see bread, fish or vegetable vans in our locale. All hype but no coordination in distribution to all neighbourhoods... only a select few. Very unfair treatment.

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