Governance Issues in Poverty Reduction in Sri Lanka

Research team

Shelton Wanasinghe




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Throughout its post-Independence period of nearly six decades, Sri Lanka has mounted several initiativesthat were expected to contribute to the reduction of poverty in the country. The earlier essays in thisdirection were not, necessarily, presented to the citizens as dedicated programmes for poverty reduction.These included the different programmes for effecting colonization and land settlement in the relativelysparsely populated areas in the dry zone of the country through the initiation and restoration of irrigationschemes; the provision of subsidized basic food commodities; programmes for the provision of freepublic goods and services such as education and health care services; the provision of subsidized publictransport; payment of poor relief and the like. The two most recent initiatives – the ‘Janasaviya’ programmethat was operational from 1989 to 1995 and the ‘Samurdhi’ programme that has been operational from1995 up to date – have, however, been claimed by the respective Governments of the day as dedicatedattempts at the reduction of poverty.