Published on: April 5, 2024

Politicians and Officials Entrusted with Ensuring Success of Government Welfare Initiatives – Director-General of Presidential Trade Unions Saman Rathnapriya

Director-General of Presidential Trade Unions Saman Rathnapriya, underscored the crucial role played by both political activists and government officials in guaranteeing the success of programs like Aswasuma, Urumaya, and Kandukara Dashakaya, initiated under the vision of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, necessitates united backing to adequately address the needs of the people.

Mr. Saman Rathnapriya made these remarks upon his participation in the recent conference convened at the Presidential Secretariat. The purpose of the conference was to apprise political activists, trade union leaders, and representatives of civil organizations about the Urumaya, Aswasuma and Kandurata Dashakaya programs outlined in the 2024 budget under the guidance of the President.

The Presidential Trade Union Relations Division organized this awareness conference, with plans for its expansion across the country in the future.

Mr. Saman Rathnapriya urged attendees to set aside personal political interests and collaborate for the success of these programs, emphasizing their critical role in bolstering the nation’s economy and the welfare of its citizens.

Senior Economic Advisor to the President Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga also spoke at the conference, highlighting that the country’s economy had attained stability under the President’s sound economic initiatives.

He emphasized that the country, previously crippled by an unprecedented economic crisis spanning 75 years, is now progressing in a positive path. He highlighted that the country’s foreign exchange reserves, which had plummeted to USD 19 million in July 2022, are projected to reach a substantial level of USD 4.5 billion by February 2024. Additionally, he underscored the achievements of the Central Bank in this regard.

Senior Additional Secretary (Agricultural Productivity and Lands), Chandra Herath, Additional Secretary to the President (Food Security and Infrastructure Development), Varnan Perera, and Chairman of the Welfare Benefits Board Jayantha Wijeratne, also delivered speeches.

Additionally, Director- General Saman Rathnapriya, who provided further remarks, also stated:

As we are aware, provisions were allocated in the 2024 budget by the President, who also serves as the Minister of Finance, for the implementation of numerous significant programs. Presently, these programs are in operation across the country. We specifically wish to bring to your attention three of these major programs namely, Urumaya, Aswasuma, and Kandurata Dashakaya. We have selected these programs for their significant impact on the people of our country.

Through the Urumaya program, landless individuals in our country are granted free land rights, benefiting 2 million people. This initiative marks a historic milestone unprecedented in the history of our country.

In the initial phase of the Urumaya program, 10,000 individuals have already received land deeds, with plans underway to expedite the process for the remaining beneficiaries. The cooperation of both government officials and politicians is indispensable for the successful implementation of this endeavour.

Public motivation is imperative for the successful implementation of the Urumaya, Aswasuma, and Kandurata Dashakaya programs. Without public enthusiasm, achieving success with these initiatives becomes challenging. Therefore, it’s crucial to raise awareness among the public regarding these programs. The support of political activists is vital in garnering public backing, thus enabling the realization of the President’s concept.

Today, the Aswesuma program has been initiated. Previously, the maximum amount received under the Samurdhi program was Rs. 8000.00. However, under the Aswesuma program, individuals can receive benefits up to a maximum of Rs. 15,000.00. The recent economic crisis has led to a rise in poverty, with job losses reaching 500,000. Acknowledging the responsibility of the government to address these challenges, efforts have been made to implement solutions. However, the President aims not only to provide immediate relief but also to empower individuals economically. The ultimate objective of this program is to create self-sustaining communities. Therefore, it is imperative for us to act as facilitators in achieving this goal.

Furthermore, there are plans to launch the Kandurata Dashakaya program across 10 districts. This initiative will extend as a decade-long program encompassing 89 Divisional Secretariat Divisions, aligned with the selected districts. The commencement of the Kandurata Dashakaya program is scheduled for this year, focusing on 10 key areas such as healthcare, access to potable water, sanitation, and road infrastructure.

The success of all these programs rests upon each of us. It’s incumbent upon us all to execute the concept of the President in a manner that prioritizes the country’s interests over personal political affiliations, ensuring maximum benefits for the people.

Senior Economic Advisor to the President Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga remarked;

There is no need for me to recall the political and economic landscape of the country when the President assumed office in July 2022. The circumstances were unprecedented and unheard of in our lifetime. It is crucial to remember that the nation was grappling with profound social and political turmoil on a daily basis.

The populace endured hardships due to shortages of fuel, gas, and electricity, while the government lacked the funds to address these pressing needs. By April 7, 2022, dollar exchange reserves of our country dropped to USD 19 million.

The circumstances, which were unheard of in our 75-year history, unheard of in our 75-year history, left a profound impact. A gas ship lay docked outside the port, yet we lacked the USD 3.5 million required to release its gas tanks. Struggling to procure the necessary funds, we incurred on-going late fees for the ship. Today, the President is reconstructing a country that once faced such dire circumstances.

The process of the President has remarkably revamped the country’s economy within a remarkably brief timeframe. As previously stated, the foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank stood at a meagre USD 19 million in 2022. However, by February 2024, the Central Bank had successfully sustained foreign exchange reserves totalling USD 4.5 billion.

As a result of the economic reforms implemented and the corresponding measures taken by the President, we have witnessed encouraging indications of the economy swiftly moving towards stabilization.


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