By Saman Indrajith
There had been many irregularities in the process of selecting beneficiaries of the Aswesuma Welfare Benefits Programme, government and Opposition MPs said in Parliament yesterday.They urged the government to suspend the implementation of the programme until those issues were sorted out.Sri Lanka should have conducted a household income and expenditure survey, immediately after the COVID crisis, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said.
“How can the government decide on who should receive welfare without any credible data? Many experts claim that the number of those below the povertyline has increased from three million to seven million . When there are seven million poor, Aswesuma is intended to benefit only 1.2 million. I propose the Prime Minister to ask the Department of Census and Statistics to conduct a household income and expenditure survey and gather necessary data,” Premadasa said.
Most of the deserving people have been left out of the welfare proramme, ” SLPP MP Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi said. A significant number of those chosen for the Aswesuma scheme were employed, propertied and have children working in developed countries, he said.
“These people are receiving between Rs 8,000 and 15,000 a month from the government. There is a lot of anger among people as a result,” he said.
Sumithraarachchi said SLPP MPs had discussed on Thursday and would urge President Ranil Wickremesinghe to address their concerns after the latter’s return to the country.
“We urge the government to hold the implementation of the programme. If not, there will be riots. The time given for appeals is also not enough.