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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008

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Social security schemes, a timely measure - PM

At the Prize and Certificate awarding ceremony for the officials who played a prominent and dedicated role for initiating and enrolling the members for the Pension Schemes formulated and launched by the Social Security Board to those in the informal and self-employment sectors, held at the Presidential Secretariat on the 31st of March 2008.

Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, the Prime Minister who participated as the guest of honour said that it is a great achievement by us, the timely steps taken by the Social Security Board that operates under the purview of the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare in implementing the Pension and Social Security Benefit schemes to the most needy in our society; the self-employed and those in the informal employment sector.

Speaking further, he said that these schemes ensure the social security of the people at their old age. He added that under the far sighted vision the President, many a programme have been implemented for the well-being of the people of this country and the Pension Scheme for those in the informal sector of employment is both timely and a step in the right direction, what is special about these pension schemes is that they will encourage those who are not entitled for State Pensions whilst fetching in a solution to unemployment problem to a certain degree and at the same time ensuring future social security of the employees the Prime Minister added.

He also said that these pension schemes are of extreme importance to a country like Sri Lanka where there is a fast growing trend of the elderly population. Prime Minister speaking further said that Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda needed to be commended for his excellent service to the people, in spite of the existent threats to his life and his undeterred courage in performance of his duties needed to be appreciated at all times the Prime Minister emphasised.

Prime Minister added that the Social Security Board established in the year 1996, had accomplished its desired objectives due to the exemplary performance of duties of its officers, District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries, “Grama Niladharis” and other relevant officers who were being honoured on that day.

Devananda, speaking at the occasion stated that the function had been organized to express their appreciation for the contributions made by the officials towards ensuring Social Security for the deprived segments in our society, though the Government officers were expected to perform their functions dedicatedly for the well being of our people, their commitment to service had to be recognized and respected in order to achieve maximum results.

He added that the Sri Lankan Society had a long history of taking care of their family members, especially the elders and ensured the social Security by the extended family system, also taking responsibilities was the norm of our forefathers for ensuring a better life to their children in future.

“In today’s competitive World, the extended family system is being shattered due to globalization and urbanization and the governments are burdened with more responsibilities for ensuring their citizens enjoy all political, economical, social and cultural rights without any discrimination in a free and healthy environment.

Speaking further the Minister said that Sri Lanka Social Security Board was established in the year 1996 with a far sighted vision to provide with Social Security to self employed and relief to the dependents of self employed upon death.

Most of the developing countries were yet to develop Social Security Schemes for the vast majority of employees in the informal sector in their countries.

“The pension policies designed and introduced at the inception, to cater to the low income earners, are still continuing. During the last two years under “Mahinda Chinthana” programme, many pension schemes were introduced to cater to a wide range of people depending on their capacity.

We have joined with other line Ministries to provide with special pension schemes, to those who have not been covered with Govt. pension schemes.

Accordingly we have designed special Pension Schemes for women and Media personnel. I am proud to state that as at date over 250,000 people have joined various pension schemes and out of them 3,741 members are now receiving their monthly pensions” said the Minister.

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