- Says social welfare by the Govt. is a form of insurance for poor
State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne apologised yesterday in Parliament on behalf of the Government for delaying the expansion of the Samurdhi program.
Moving the orders made by the Minister of Finance under Section 3 of the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No. 13 of 1989 relating to Excise duty and published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2113/9 of 05th March 2019, Gazette Extraordinary No. 2114/25 of 13th March 2019, Gazette Extraordinary No. 2114/49 of 14th March 2019, Gazette Extraordinary No. 2123/5 of 13th May 2019, and regulations under section 112 read with section 16 of the Regulation of Insurance Industry Act No. 43 of 2000, State Minister Wickramaratne held that Samurdhi benefits were a type of insurance and social welfare offered to poor people.
“Insurance is a benefit enjoyed by high-income earner groups of the country. Generally, low-income earner communities don’t obtain insurance policies. This low-income group is covered by the social cover the Government provides. During the Budget speech, the Minister extended Samurdhi to 600,000 more people who are low-income earners. We also increased the benefits received by the existing recipients soon after the Government came into power. But we failed to widen the base of Samurdhi recipients. We apologise for this delay. By allocating more money from Budget 2019 we have widened the Samurdi recipients. Now the total number of Samurdhi recipient has gone up to 1.9 million,” he said.
Touching upon the excise tax notifications, which came into effect in March this year, the State Minister said: “We have enforced an excise tax increase based on inflation. We follow an indexation in this process to tax alcohol. This will be the principle followed where no Minster and the Ministry can enforce arbitrary tax decisions.” (AH)