A Giant leap in poverty alleviation | Daily News


A Giant leap in poverty alleviation

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa presenting an appointment letter to a graduate at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday. Pictures by President's Media Division.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa presenting an appointment letter to a graduate at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday. Pictures by President's Media Division.

This week’s commencement of the most significant social development programme in the country failed to attract its deserving media attention because the main focus shifted to the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

A member each from 100,000 poorest families in the country commenced their training programme this week to fortify their skills to join the public sector. This is the most significant step taken to uplift the poorest of the poor families in the country. Under this scheme the unemployed youths without any skills were handpicked from 100,000 poor families in the most underdeveloped regions in the country. This employment scheme was gazetted within two months of assuming office by the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the selection of youths was completed in the first quarter of this year. However the granting of appointments were delayed due to the restrictions imposed by the Commissioner of Elections and the process was resumed after the completion of general elections on August 5, 2020.

A cross section of the graduates at the Presidential Secretariat after the presentation ceremony.

The newly recruited persons will be assigned to public sector offices to fill the existing vacancies of unskilled workers after completion of the training period. Thus 100,000 poorest of the poor families will be assured of a monthly income henceforth, uplifting them to a higher step on the social ladder. At the same time, the unskilled youths will be given an opportunity to learn skills so they would be equipped with capabilities for upward mobility.

Simultaneously, under the graduate employment scheme under which 50,000 unemployed graduates were selected earlier were given employment this week. When the applications were called from unemployed graduates, more than 50,000 applications were received as many graduates who were working in the private sector and those who were in the category of under-employment have also opted to join the public sector. Initially, only those who were unemployed for a period of one year were given appointments. They commenced their training period this week at different public sector offices, schools and other institutions.

Last month, those graduates who failed to get public sector employment because they were underemployed or had worked on temporary jobs and contributed to ETF and Provident Fund, appealed that their applications should be reconsidered. Acceding to the request, another cabinet paper was approved to grant employment to another 10,000 graduates, taking the total to 60,000.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged the graduates newly recruited to the pubic sector to do their utmost for the country’s development to create a culture of ‘Rata Wenuwen Weda’ (Work for the country) as envisaged in the policy statement, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.” The President stated this after handing over letters of appointment to a selected group of graduates symbolizing the recruitment of 60,000 graduates to the Public Service. A simple ceremony in this connection was held at the Presidential Secretariat.

The President emphasized that newly appointed employees should do justice to the salaries they earn and avoid being a burden to those who are engaged in agriculture and fisheries sectors who earn money to pay salaries of the public sector.

The President highlighted that the responsibility lies with the newly recruited to enhance their knowledge in the selected field and to pursue post-graduate studies and computer training for the furtherance of their careers. The number of graduates joining the public service yesterday was 50,177. Out of this, 38,760 are women. The number of employed art graduates is 31,172. According to the graduate classification, 29,156 internal graduates and 20,322 external graduates have been recruited. Appointments were also given to 1000 monks.

The selection of 100,000 from the Samurdhi beneficiary families were done though Multi-Purpose Development Task Force established by President Rajapaksa immediately after assuming office. The objective of the Task Force was to empower the poorest families. The Task Force decided to restrict the employment scheme to those families.

Unskilled individuals without any formal education or of lower level of education were selected under the programme. During the first phase, 100,000 jobs were provided, covering the entire island. “Between 300 to 350 persons from each Divisional Secretariat were recruited. They will be seconded to fill the vacancies which do not require any specific educational qualifications existing at schools, hospitals, and other State institutions. Measures will be taken to absorb the candidates to sectors such as masonry, carpentry, agriculture, fisheries, forest conservation, following provision of training according to the needs of the area,” the Task Force stated. The selection was done though the Grama Niladharis to identify the poorest of the families of which none of the members had regular employment. The military and police intelligence was used to double check the financial status of those families.

President Rajapaksa, while pointing out that this initiative is an idea that emerged during the presidential election campaign, highlighted the importance of implementing the program efficiently and effectively. The President said this project will be instrumental in liberating families from poverty, and empowering them economically.

The newly recruited unskilled workers will also make their contribution to various activities, such as assisting the government officials to maintain State properties and other civil activities, prevention of diseases including COVID19, dengue, natural disasters, uplifting rural infrastructure facilities, and coast conservation.

The recruits, while employing as unskilled workers, will also get opportunities to train for various selected skills enabling them upward movement in employment. Under another phase, it is also expected to provide foreign employment opportunities based on their capabilities and skills. It has been planned to link them to a pension scheme upon completion of 10 years of service.

Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga pointed out that this will pave the way to rectify the long-term political error of recruiting educated people for jobs that do not require a qualification. Another advantage to the new recruits is that they will be given employment opportunities within proximity of their residence.

During the training period they will be paid 22,500 rupees as a training allowance. Based upon available job opportunities in proximity to the applicant’s residence and his choice of field for training, his/her vocational program was decided.

Graduates at the presentation ceremony.

The training program will be conducted at the Training Centers in the same area of the applicant’s residence or at the nearby Training Centers. Following successful completion of the training program trainees will have the opportunity to be appointed to an accepted permanent government position in his own residence area with a non-primary skilled salary of Rs. 35,000 and allowances. After a satisfactory and uninterrupted career record of 10 years he/she will be eligible for pension.

President Rajapaksa said the program will be helpful those poorest of the Samurdhi beneficiary families who now get only a monthly dole of Rs 3,500 to raise their income Rs. 35,000 plus other allowances entitle by new public sector employees. This is the most remarkable programme ever launched to achieve the vision of poverty eradication.



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