Written by Staff Writer
17 Apr, 2019 | 8:40 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Residents in Padiyathalawa are facing difficulties due to the prevailing drought in the area. Locals of 6 villages are severely inconvenienced due to the lack of water in the area.
Hinatamulla in Padiyathalawa is one such area that is experiencing a drought. Residents charge that the water of the tube wells is not suitable for consumption.
“We walk two to three kilometres to find water. This water is what we use for drinking purposes, to wash clothes, and to prepare food.”
“We must dig the earth to find water to have a bath.”
“There is water in tube wells, but it is not fit for consumption.”
“There is some form of metallic residue in the water.”
“We live by building our own roads and digging our own wells. I wonder whether our village is registered under the state.”
As seen above, many citizens in our country are facing difficulties and hardships to make ends meet and it seems to be increasing day by day. During such a time of hardship, many poverty-stricken families depend on the Samurdhi Subsidy Programme, to be a helping hand in their already difficult lives.
However, when reading through the special report published by the Auditor General on the contribution of the Samurdhi Subsidy programme for the empowerment of Samurdhi beneficiaries, one could question as to whether this subsidy programme has been implemented in an effective manner over the past few years.
The Auditor General’s report has utilised several focus groups from several identified areas of the country and has identified several issues which exist within this subsidy programme.
The chief observation made by the Auditor General is the fact that the Government has failed to prepare a state policy in respect of empowerment of the beneficiaries by defining who the ‘Samurdhi Beneficiary is and what ‘Empowerment’ would inculcate, thereby resulting in the government incurring large scale expenditures, annually.
Further, the report states that in the years between 2014 and 2016, the financial assistance provided to the family living off the Samurdhi subsidy programme had been increased. Accordingly, by the year 2016, the total benefit received per one Samurdhi beneficiary amounted to Rs. 29, 706, which is an increase from Rs. 11,736 in 2014.
Although a timely increase has occurred between these years, several discrepancies have been observed in the distribution of this subsidy. Which is yet another alarming fact?
An expenditure of Rs. 4.3 million had been incurred in 2016 when the ‘E’ Samurdhi data system was created. This system was supposed to include information regarding Samurdhi beneficiaries and low-income earners. But, like most things in Sri Lanka, the data system had not been updated costing the country Rs. 4.3 million, which cannot be regained.
Moreover, even though it was clear that Samurdhi subsidies could be obtained by beneficiaries at any time, several balances had remained in community-based banks; at times more than Rs. 100,000. Also, beneficiaries had been persuaded to obtain loans by delaying payments of subsidies.
Beneficiaries had also been deprived of the opportunity of knowing the accurate balances of their accounts.
It has also been revealed that several frauds had occurred over the years in 18 banks and banking societies which fall under the purview of the Sri Lanka Samrudhi Authority amounting to Rs. 12,023,000 and further another Rs. 108,902,167 had been fraudulently obtained from 63 banks between the years of 2014 and 2016.
Yet another observation is, that although Rs. 90 million had been allocated in 2016 for development of infrastructure, that amount had only been utilised for development purposes of 7 districts instead of utilizing the money to provide assistance to all 25 districts.
Money from the Samurdhi Social Development Trust Fund had been used for other purposes, deviating from programmes which would uplift the living conditions of Samurdhi beneficiaries.
Against such a backdrop where, the poorest of the poor seem to suffer more and more each day and while their subsidies are being looted in broad daylight before their own eyes, these are the issues, which our politicians are not bothered in solving.
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