The Welfare Benefits Board has issued a request to all eligible beneficiaries of the Aswesuma welfare benefit payment program. Those beneficiaries, whose names have been listed at regional secretariats but have yet to open bank accounts to receive their entitled benefits, are urged to do so without delay. Mr. Jayantha Wijeratne, the Chairman, conveyed this message.
During a recent meeting at the President’s Office, which involved the Welfare Benefit Board and other relevant parties, a discussion took place regarding the insurance program overseen by the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Shehan Semasinghe. The main topic of conversation was the current status of the Aswesuma program, which was initiated to provide social welfare benefits with complete transparency to those who truly need them.
Chairman Jayantha Wijeratne disclosed that, as of October 16, an amount of Rs. 7,705,302,250.00 has been disbursed to 1,230,097 families across five benefit categories related to July. He also noted that the remaining payments for July will be finalized by December.
However, it was also revealed that there have been delays in providing payments to another group of beneficiaries due to various issues, including pending appeals and protest investigations. The Minister of State for Finance emphasized the need to investigate the causes of these delays and expedite the disbursement of benefits.
Mr. Jayantha Wijeratne stated that approximately two hundred thousand beneficiaries have faced delays in receiving their payments because they haven’t opened bank accounts yet. Once they open their accounts, they can promptly receive the associated payments without any issues.
Moreover, beneficiaries of the subsidy can establish their bank accounts at any branch of Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, or Regional Development Bank in their locality by presenting the letter issued by the subsidy computer system of the relevant Regional Secretariat. The bank will then forward the account details to the Good Factor Benefits Board.
To assist those applicants who cannot open bank accounts due to the absence of national identity cards, the Bank of Ceylon, National Savings Bank, and Regional Development Bank have extended the opportunity, with the condition that applicants provide their national identity cards within six months.
During the discussion, the importance of maintaining a robust unit within the divisional secretaries’ offices for the execution of the relief program was emphasized. Given the goal of completing benefit payment activities by the end of December, it was also suggested to declare a special work week to facilitate this.
Among those who participated in the discussion were Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the President, Chandima Wickramasinghe, Additional Secretary to the President, K. P. Harsha Wijewardena, Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister (Administration), Champika Kaluarachchi, Additional Secretary (Social Empowerment) of the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment, M. Anoma Nandani, Additional Director General of the National Budget Department, J. M. S. D Ratnayake, Additional Director General (Social Infrastructure) of the National Planning Department, G. Pradeep Saputantri, Commissioner General of the Department of Registration of Persons, D. C. Athukorala, Senior Assistant Secretary (Village Officials Administration) at the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, W. P.C.A. Weerasuriya and Senior Assistant Secretary (Local Administration) at the Ministry of State Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government.
The discussion also saw the participation of the General Managers of Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank and Regional Development Bank, as well as members of the Welfare Benefit Board and staff members.
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