Opposition lawmaker Harsha de Silva revealed in Parliament that around 7 million Sri Lankans currently live in poverty, shedding light on the alarming state of poverty in the country.
Drawing upon the latest findings by LirneAsia, the MP revealed that approximately 4 million individuals, accounting for around 17% of the population, have fallen into poverty since 2019 thanks to misguided policies of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration.
During his speech, he highlighted the profound impact of this dire situation on the daily lives of families. He recounted the poignant words of a distressed mother who shared her struggle, saying, "I used to buy all the food she [referring to her 4-year-old baby] needed, but now I can't even buy half of what I used to. Even a bun... She used to eat baby rusks, which used to cost Rs. 30.00, but now it's around Rs. 140." It is deeply concerning that 47% of households have been compelled to reduce their food consumption in order to make ends meet.
Noting that the consequences of poverty extend far beyond hunger, MP Harsha de Silva emphasized that in 27% of households, parents have been forced to sacrifice their own meals to ensure that their children are fed.
Equally troubling is the fact that 6% of households with children aged 5-18 have been unable to send their kids to school. Quoting a survey participant, the MP revealed, "About half the boys in the nearby estate have dropped out of school. They take on odd jobs in the area and can earn about Rs. 200 if someone calls them."
As these distressing statistics underscore the urgent need to address poverty in Sri Lanka, he called for a united effort among Members of Parliament.
Emphasizing that no child should go hungry or be deprived of an education, he added that it is imperative that policymakers work diligently to make a meaningful difference in the lives of fellow citizens.