Rs. 200bn for social welfare projects

Govt. expecting US$ 700 million World Bank loans this year for poverty alleviation, other projects

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To raise the living standards of  poverty-stricken people, the Government is to allocate an additional Rs 200 billion for social welfare projects in next year’s budget, anticipating two major World Bank loans amounting to US$ 700 million within this year, Treasury officials said.

The World Bank funds are to be pumped into welfare projects including providing financial assistance to an estimated three million low-income families for three years.

The assistance is expected to be disbursed through a voucher system or distribution of material.

The officials said the allocations would also be made use of for new social welfare projects to be introduced by the Government.

The funding will also be utilised to help nearly half a million people in the form of medical assistance – for kidney and heart patients — and pay allowances to elderly and disabled people. The objective is to improve the economic condition of an estimated three million persons for the next three years, the officials said. The move is seen as part of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirement to raise the living standards of vulnerable and poverty-trapped groups.

The Government is increasing its commitment by allocating Rs 200 billion for social welfare projects as part of its contribution to raising the living standards of the poor.

The World Bank funds are expected to be disbursed from next month onwards. One of the loans would be US$ 200 million and this would be followed by a US$ 500 million loan which could be used for other projects as well, the officials said.

The next IMF loan installment amounting to US$ 350 million is expected in September. Meanwhile, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said already under a programme, 200,000 families in 12 districts were being provided with dry rations and vegetables while another two groups were being provided a monthly allowance of Rs 25,000 and Rs 17,500.


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