By Sandun A. Jayasekera
The government has spent Rs.50 billion to pay a stipend of Rs. 5,000 to 7.4 million individuals among poorest of poor in April alone and the financial relief would also be paid in May as well, as they have no other relief, cabinet spokesman, Higher Education, Information, Communication Technology and New Inventions Minister Bandula Gunawardane said last afternoon.
Minister Gunawardane told the weekly cabinet news briefing last afternoon that the cabinet approved an extra allowance through the public officers who involved directly in grassroots level to pay the Rs. 5,000 to the doorstep of the helpless families.
Accordingly, Grama Niladharis, Samurdhi officials, Family Health officials, Agriculture Research Assistants will be paid Rs. 1,000 as communication expenses, travelling allowance of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 450 as fuel allowance and Rs. 600 for covering duties of another officer staring from May.
The government had already paid Rs. 5,000 to senior citizens, chronic kidney disease patients, self employed persons, three wheeler drivers, school van drivers, private bus drivers and conductors and many more who have lost their income in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government does not want to keep a single family or individual in hunger at least with one meal. That is why the government pays Rs. 5,000 for the helpless men and women. If the government has the financial capacity, an amount higher than this would be paid,” Minister Gunawardane stressed.