Richest 20 pc account for 54.1 pc of national income

By Saman Indrajith

The richest 20 percent of Sri Lankans accounted for 54.1 percent of national income and the poorest 20 percent only for 4.5 percent of the country’s earnings, Parliament was told yesterday.

Deputy Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, responding to a question raised by UNP Hambantota District MP Sajith Premdasa, said the value of the share from the national income enjoyed by the richest 20 percent amounted to Rs. 4,102,065 million while the corresponding figure for the poorest 20 percent of population was Rs. 341,207 million in 2012.

Asked by the MP to inform the House of measures taken by the government to rectify the anomaly in the distribution of national income, the minister said under the Mahinda Chintana, the Government had initiated many programmes to uplift the lives of the country’s low income groups.

Among those were the fertiliser and free subsidy given by the government to the lower income bracket in society as well as welfare programmes such as triposha, liquid milk promotion and the nutritional food basket. "In a bid to lessen the gap between the rich and poor, the government has also initiated programmes such as Gama Neguma, Pura Neguma as well as other programmes at village level," he added.

Besides, the government has also changed the educational curriculum in order to increase the employability levels of those in the lower segments of society, which would, in turn, lift them out of their life of poverty.

The minister said that the poverty index of 15.2 percent as well as the unemployment ratio of 7.2 percent in 2005 had fallen to 6.5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in 2012.

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