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Economists in the academia have urged the Government to invite the private sector to create suitable employment along with skills development programmes for the poor.
It was recently reported that President Maithripala Sirisena had declared that 2017 would be the Year of Liberating the Country from Poverty. A relevant memorandum is to be presented to the Cabinet soon.

Head of the Department of Economics of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Colombo, Prof. W. Wimalaratana said that time-bound, goal-oriented and target-based sustainable poverty reduction and alleviation plans, programmes and strategies should be formulated rather than doling out handouts to the poor.

“Giving handouts resulted in the development of a dependent mentality among the poor, the result of which is that they expect eternal support from the Government and other sources,” Prof. Wimalaratana said.

He pointed out that the dedication and focus of such programmes should be the actual poor while adding that the poorest of the poor people had not been properly targeted through programmes such as Janasaviya, Samurdhi, Divi Neguma and World Bank funded projects.

Highlighting the need for the benefit of such programmes to go towards the poorest segment, Wimalaratana said that in the process of selecting the poor, the process of selection should not be politicized.

The largest shares of such progarmmes should go to the poor instead of the administration for propaganda activities, he explained.

“The poverty alleviation target should be achieved within a stipulated time period of five to ten years. At the completion of such a programme, one should be able to say that a certain percentage would be considered as regions free of poverty,” Wimalaratana said.
“It is difficult to eradicate poverty or bring it to zero level within a short period. If the Government takes the responsibility for employment generation for the poor with skills development components, the Government will not be able to maintain and sustain such programmes and there will also be large and unnecessary losses to the public coffers,” he remarked.
(RLJ)