Fund to support soldiers' families

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 January 1999, 14:48 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President has established a fund and an authority to look after the welfare of the families of Sri Lankan security personnel that are said to be living in poverty.

A press release from the Presidential secretariat said today that twenty thousand families of Sri Lankan security forces personnel are living in poverty.

The authority will establish branches in all the districts to look into the needs and problems of these families and take necessary action to redress them.

The press note said that a fund called Ranaviru Welfare Fund will be also set up to collect money from Sri Lankans, particularly those who are living or working abroad.

The fund and the authority will function directly under the President the release said.

The latter will begin work from March 1, said sources at the Presidential secretariat.

The fund will be channelled through the authority to build houses for these families, give them soft loans, provide employment etc.,

The SLA is 98 percent Sinhala. Most recruits to the Sri Lankan security forces are drawn from the Sinhala rural poor who are politically important during elections.

Political observers feel that the announcement comes at this juncture to boost the government's image among the rural poor.

The PA government is currently facing a crucial election in the north-western province. Its leadership feels that losing this election might ruin its chances at the Parliamentary polls which are scheduled to be held early next year.

Some military analysts in Colombo said that the move comes in the wake of several proposals by the SLA brass that a welfare system for the families of the lower ranks in the army is necessary to boost morale and encourage potential recruits in the poorer sections of Sinhala rural society to join the army.

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