By Sandun A Jayasekera
The cabinet that met on Tuesday decided to ensure the government’s outright relief package of Rs. 5,000 is received by 4 million needy Sri Lankans who are in the low income, unemployed and helpless families or disabled categories in the next few days, cabinet spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardane said.
He said the pensions of retired public servants numbering nearly 650,000 would be delivered to their homes and as such they must not come to the bank or the post office to get their pensions.
Minister Gunawardane who held the weekly cabinet news briefing only for the electronic media at the Information Department said the government has made arrangements for postal workers who are familiar with the addresses and whereabouts of pensioners would bring the pension to the doorstep of the pensioners with in postal department or SLTB vehicles under the security of the Sri Lanka Army.
“What they need is to produce the pension ID card,” he said.
The Rs. 5,000 paid to the poorest of the poor, helpless and families with disabled persons was not a loan but a grant from the government.
Samurdhi families will also get the first installment of Rs. 5000 immediately whether they have a savings or not in their Samurdhi accounts. However, the second installment of Rs. 5,000 in the Rs. 10,000 loan package would be paid to 200,000 Community Based Society (CBS) members through CBS banks. Those who had defaulted loan repayments have also given an opportunity to make an appeal to get the loan. Another 6,330,000 families in the Samurdhi waiting list will also be considered for the financial facility in the next few days.
Of the 3.2 million senior citizens, 600,000 are over 70 years of age with no pension or any other income. They will be paid Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 3,000 in two installments and the National Senior Citizens Secretariat (NSCS) will provide 8,500 children’s’ homes with basic food commodities and other essentials. The management of these homes must inform their requirement to the NSCS by April 9.
There are about 150,000 disabled and those suffering from Acute Kidney Failures in the country. A special fund has been allocated to provide them with financial aid, food and drugs. The government has a special relief package for Fishermen and Farmers through their respective insurance schemes.
Though the Family Health clinics have been closed under the prevailing situation, Family Health Nurses will visit homes of expectant mothers and the newly-born and the distribution of Thriposha will continue uninterrupted, Minister Gunawardane said. The cabinet memo for the relief package had been presented by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.