Divi Neguma Department to begin work from 3 January

Friday, 27 December 2013 02:34 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Divi Neguma Department - established to raise the living standards of 1.8 million families and thereby benefit five million persons - will commence operations from Friday 3 January.   Religious ceremonies island-wide will mark the occasion. The department’s main objective is to make Sri Lanka a poverty-free country for which purpose food security will be ensured and micro finance, physical and social infrastructure facilities will be provided to strengthen livelihoods and development at community level. Following the passing of the Divi Neguma Bill with a majority of 117 votes in parliament on 8 January, 2013 in accordance with the recommendations made by the Supreme Court, 27,000 persons employed by the Samurdhi Authority and the five affiliated organisations will become entitled to all the salaries and benefits given to other government employees. The Divi Neguma program will be streamlined under a single department combining the services of five organisations including the Sri Lanka Samurdhi Authority, Upcountry Development Authority and Southern Development Authority in five regions. The department will be empowered simultaneously with the issuing of the relevant gazette notice 3 January. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has likened the Divi Neguma Bill to such historic legislation as the Free Education Bill, Paddy Lands Act, Employees Provident Fund Bill and Land Reforms Act. The main objective is to make poverty-stricken people participate in the development process and bring its benefits to all segments of society, according to the minister Rajapaksa. By now 12,533 cottage industries have started under the Divi Neguma program and about 30,000 small entrepreneurs have been trained for setting up such industries. A system has been introduced to provide the capital and financial facilities they need through state banks. The livestock sector has seen much progress under Divi Neguma and thousands of farmers have entered this program as well. The beneficiaries have been provided with 1.7 million chicks for poultry farming thus contributing Rs. 4,320 million to the national economy. The number of subsidiary crop exporters who have benefited from Divi Neguma is 1.1 million. The program has also made an immense contribution to increase liquid milk production and fish consumption per person per day.