Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Social protection in Sri Lanka: An analysis of the social, economic and political effectiveness of the Samurdhi program

Sánchez Ramos, Karen Melissa and Karimi, Abdul Matin (2020): Social protection in Sri Lanka: An analysis of the social, economic and political effectiveness of the Samurdhi program.

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Abstract

Sri Lanka is an important reference for social protection effectiveness in the South Asian region and the developing world. The government of Sri Lanka has been an active contributor to the human development and social protection structures for decades. The Samurdhi Program was then introduced in 1995 to lift the most vulnerable groups above the poverty line and facilitate the integration of the poor into the social and economic structures of the country. This paper analyses the effectiveness of the Samurdhi Program in the social, economic and political spheres. The main findings suggest that the Samurdhi Program has helped numerous families to overcome poverty, mainly due to an extensive coverage and because characteristics of the households are key determinants to receiving the grants, which allow for some wealth redistribution from the non-poor to the poor. Nevertheless, the program faces great limitations due to ambiguous entry and exit mechanisms and political interferences in the selection procedures which lead to leakages to non-poor households. In addition, a persistent high debt-to-GDP ratio threatens Sri Lanka’s long-term sustainability for welfare spending.

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