Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana says the government acknowledges that the Rs.2,000 grant provided to low-income families during the imposition of quarantine curfew is insufficient.
Speaking during the weekly Cabinet decisions media briefing Minister Pathirana said the government is faced with a massive crisis pertaining to continuously providing financial concessions amidst the prevailing crisis.
He noted a large group of persons are severely burdened due to the imposition of curfew.
The Minister said the government spent over Rs.80 billion to provide Rs.5,000 allowances to low-income families on three previous occasions, when curfew was imposed.
He added the Rs.2,000 grant is being provided to persons who are severely affected, claiming it is the most the government can do at present.
He stressed therefore the government aims to contain the spread of COVID-19 and take steps to carry out all activities to return the economy to normalcy, adding that the government focused on the matter.
Minister Ramesh Pathirana meanwhile said the Minister of Finance issued directives to strictly limit government expenses amidst the prevailing economic crisis, at the Cabinet meeting held yesterday.
When inquired by media regarding a news item published in a national newspaper today, Minister Pathirana said the Finance Minister advised the Cabinet of Ministers on several ways to strictly maintain financial discipline.
He said it was discussed to conduct a progress evaluation on projects that have been included in the Budget and that have not commenced thus far, and decide on whether it can be carried out this year.
The Minister added non-essential recruitments have also been suspended, while attention has also been directed towards unnecessary allowances, to manage the government’s financial situation.
When inquired by media regarding the rising prices of sugar and sugar shortages reported from several areas, Minister Ramesh Pathirana said the government is due to reach several decisions regarding the issue in future.
The Minister, while not commenting on the price increase, said the government is taking and will take several decisions to address the shortage in the market.
The Minister noted that steps have been taken to release locally sourced sugar stocks through Lanka Sathosa and Cooperative outlets to the market.
He noted that they can only meet 15 percent to 20 percent of the domestic demand and therefore are looking at alternative solutions to end the current crisis.