Opposition Leader urges government to act with empathy during pandemic

Opposition Leader urges government to act with empathy during pandemic

Opposition Leader urges government to act with empathy during pandemic

Written by Staff Writer

24 Nov, 2020 | 2:30 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): The opposition has urged the government to act with empathy, days after a government minister criticized families for not using a Rs 5000 allowance for a month.

“The government must address the people’s problems humanely and with great empathy,” opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa had accused low-income families of using up a monthly Rs 5000 relief allowance in a week, sparking outrage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected livelihoods.

The government has said it is offering a Rs 10000 worth food packs for families in quarantine and a Rs 5000 monthly allowance for families below the poverty line in areas under curfew.

“However, it has been reported that all eligible families have not received the allowance,” the opposition leader pointed out.

He observed that the Rs 5000 allowance issued by Grama Niladhari offices is being limited to 100 families daily due to the lack of facilities to expedite the process.

“Considering that there are around 10,000 families in each Grama Niladhari division in the Colombo District, this capacity is insufficient,” Premadasa argued.

He reiterated that the government must offer a monthly allowance of Rs 20,000 to ease the economic burden on families struggling to cope during the pandemic.

However, state minister Shehan Semasinghe pointed out that the public had rejected Premadasa’s pledge to offer a Rs 20,000 monthly allowance, by not voting his party into power at the parliamentary polls.

“As the government that is in power, we will conduct ourselves responsibly,” Semasinghe stressed.

But the opposition leader argued that his party was not voted into power despite such pledges, as the government had cultivated a misconception that the pandemic has been eliminated from the country.

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