Sri Lanka to expand food stamps to former war zones

Jan 13, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will expand a food stamp scheme to former war zones in the east adding an estimated 100,000 families to 1.5 million already on the scheme, deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywardene said. “We did not want to remove the program until their incomes are stable.

“We have been encouraging them to voluntarily give up the benefits and have ceremonies to recognize those that do.”

Abeywardene said an extra 3,000 billion rupees will be transferred to Samurdhi programs in 2012. Last year tax-payers forked out 9.3 billion rupees for the program.

Meanwhile thousands of animators who are attached to the Samurdhi Authority, had agitated and got lifetime pensions from tax-payers. Pensions entitlements would be given shortly, minister Abeywardene said. Sri Lanka’s Samurdhi (prosperity) income re-distribution scheme also has several income generating programs with a savings and loan scheme.

The program will be extended to the districts of Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, where a war ended in 2009 and people are now being resettled.

“Earlier our offices could not reach those areas,” minister Abeywardene said. “There are high levels of poverty there and we expect ab