Sri Lanka poverty subsidy helping not only the poor: CBSL

Chandi Dharmaratne

Apr 12, 2010 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan poverty alleviation subsidy programme provides benefits to well over a quarter of the people, an unrealistically high number, and not only the poor, the Central Bank has said.

“The potential for linking some of these food programmes with community-driven development programmes needs to be explored as malnutrition in the country is challenging the sustainability of the level of social development.” Under the ‘Samurdhi’ subsidy programme, benefits are provided to about 32 percent of the population of 20 million people.

“Compared to the Poverty Head Count Index which was 15.2 percent, the percentage of Samurdhi recipients at 32 percent is substantially high,” the Central Bank said in its annual report.

“This highlights the ability to further streamline the Samurdhi programme to a more realistic one, while providing more benefits to the needy people.”

The bank said the Samurdhi subsidy scheme needs better targeting.

A total of 1.6 million families benefitted from the Samurdhi subsidy programme in 2009 at a total cost of 9,298 million rupees.

The Central Bank said the existing food rations programmes need to be reviewed to determine better geographic