Published on: April 8, 2024

Sri Lanka Implements Its Most Robust Social Security Program

  • A Rs 200 Billion Social Safety Net to Support Vulnerable Populations Amid Economic Turmoil.
  • Record Disbursements: Nearly Rs. 200 Billion Distributed in 2023 Alone.
  • Over 1.8 Million Beneficiaries Supported as of March 31, 2024.

Presidential Director General (Community Affairs) Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon said that nearly Rs. 200 billion has been paid in 2023 alone to provide relief to the people affected by the economic crisis.

He also mentioned that the number of relief beneficiaries as of March 31, 2024 is 1,854,308.

President Director General (Community Affairs) Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon mentioned this while making a special statement to the media today (08).

Mr. Rajith Keerthi Thennakoon, who commented further said:

The government acknowledges its duty to alleviate the hardships faced by the populace amidst the profound economic challenges experienced in 2021 and 2022. In the singular year of 2023, a substantial sum of Rs. 184,098.27 million is deemed necessary for various aids, loans, and allowances under the Samurdhi program, catering to seniors, disabled individuals, patients with kidney disorders, and other relief needs.

Additionally, the government’s total expenditure on social welfare initiatives in 2023, inclusive of appeals and outstanding payments, amounts to approximately Rs.189,650.95 million (189.6 billion).

In February 2024, an allocation of Rs.1,813 million was disbursed to those previously overlooked during the initial relief distribution. Furthermore, an additional disbursement of Rs. 13,697.35 million is earmarked following the review of appeals, with funds directed towards impoverished individuals.

When considering the sum allocated for Samurdhi loans, the government’s total outlay for social safety measures in 2023 totals Rs. 199,608.62 million, which is around Rs. 200 billion.

Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the presidency in July 2022, up until December 2023 (a span of 17 months), the Samurdhi Development Department has disbursed Rs. 129.93 billion, with Rs. 65.91 billion designated for subsidies benefiting the underprivileged. Additionally, Rs. 4.52 billion were allocated for social security payments covering various life events such as births, marriages, deaths, illnesses, and scholarships. Furthermore, the Samurdhi Bank extended loans totalling Rs. 59.5 billion during this same timeframe.

Furthermore, this year, the government has initiated nutritional schemes for schoolchildren, support initiatives for expectant mothers, and distributed 20 kilograms of rice free of charge to impoverished families. On International Women’s Day, measures were enacted to alleviate the financial burden on women by providing loans under the “Liya Saviya” program, initiated by the President, at a reduced interest rate of 12%.

Addressing the shortcomings of previous programs such as Janasaviya and Samurdhi, the government is committed to eradicating corruption, mismanagement, and bureaucracy, while establishing a foundational social security framework. Consequently, plans are underway to introduce over 30 distinct social security initiatives nationwide, with a focus on transparency and accountability.

In support of the relief efforts, the World Bank has extended a loan of $ 200 million, structured for repayment over 30 years, with a grace period of 5 years. It is noteworthy that by March 31, 2024, the total number of beneficiaries under the relief program is projected to reach 1,854,308.


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