State Minister for Social Empowerment, Mr. Anupa Pasqual, emphasized that empowering the disabled community is pivotal to boosting the country’s productive economy.
During a news conference held at the Presidential Media Center, themed Collective Path to a stable country,’ Mr. Anupa Pasqual announced that a new Disability Bill, aimed at safeguarding the rights of the entire disabled community, will be presented to Parliament this year.
Mr. Pasqual noted that approximately 4% of the country’s population comprises individuals with disabilities and the government has taken measures to provide them with financial assistance and essential amenities. Additionally, he stressed the importance of harnessing technology to empower this community, as they have the potential to make meaningful contributions to the country’s economic growth.
The State Minister expressed the government’s commitment to strengthening the disabled community, emphasizing that the forthcoming disability bill aims to reduce their dependence on government support. It is anticipated that the bill will be passed in Parliament by year-end.
The comprehensive legislation seeks to ensure the protection of the rights of disabled individuals and their empowerment within society.
This includes providing access, education and technology to all members of the disabled community. The government plans to integrate disabled students with their peers rather than segregating them, facilitating the implementation of this inclusive program.
The Sign Language Act enjoys international recognition as a legitimate language, allowing it to be understood universally. The revision of the sign language bill, facilitated by the Office of the Secretary General of the Disabled, is slated for completion by year-end, aiming to establish robust communication channels.
Furthermore, a significant international tourism event is scheduled to take place in December this year, bringing together the global disabled community. As part of this program, a dedicated train service will transport participants from Colombo to tourist destinations in Kandy.
Additionally, special cultural events and one-day workshops will be held in the picturesque Aluthgama beach area.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has placed a strong emphasis on empowering the disabled community, leading to enhancements in various allowances beyond regular social welfare benefits.
The education aid stipend, previously set at Rs. 10,000, has been increased to Rs. 20,000 starting this year. Similarly, employment assistance allowances have risen from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 45,000. Housing allowances have also seen an increase, rising from Rs. 150,000 to Rs. 250,000.
President Wickremesinghe’s guidance has prompted the ministry to expand its support and benefits for the disabled community. It is essential to ensure that the disabled community is not confined to their homes and that an inclusive environment is created for them in society. Providing job opportunities and integrating their contributions into both public and private sectors is a crucial aspect of this effort.
Recognizing the importance of the disabled community’s contribution to the country’s productive economy, efforts are being made to strengthen the nation’s overall economic landscape. This aligns with the broader goal of bolstering the country’s economy as a whole. (PMD)