Ranjith Siyambalapitiya

State minister Siyambalapitiya on 4 Mn people paid monthly by govt.


[A group of] 4 million are watching the government expectantly. 2 million out of that are government employees and pensioners who are expecting an increase in salaries and the other 2 million are those who have been admitted to the social welfare process through Aswesuma.

Ranjith Siyambalapitiya’s Facebook Page | November 8, 2023



Fact Check

This claim by the State Minister Siyambalapitya was reported differently in the press. However, FactCheck.lk evaluated only his associated social media post (see N.B.). He can be understood as claiming that 4 million individuals will be receiving monthly payments from the government in 2024. He bases this figure on two groups: (i) 2 million who are government employees or pensioners, and (ii) 2 million who receive monthly welfare payments.

To verify this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the Welfare Benefit Board website, Ministry of Finance Annual Report 2022, and the Budget Estimates for 2024.

Group 1: The total number of public sector employees (1,393,883) and pensioners (676,430) for 2022 aligns with the state minister’s cited figure for group 1.

Group 2: The state minister refers to those who have been admitted to the Aswesuma programme. The only available data for the Aswesuma program indicates 1,792,265 eligible beneficiaries in 2023, but this may not accurately represent the actual number of recipients.

Nevertheless, according to the 2024 budget estimates, the government ‘expects’ to provide Aswesuma to 2 million households—which may be the basis for the figure cited by the state minister for group 2.

Consequently, the state minister’s estimation of 4 million as the number expecting to receive monthly payments from the government aligns with the government’s data and budget projections.

Therefore, we classify the state minister’s claim as TRUE.

*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.

N.B. – This claim by State Minister Siyambalapitya was reported in Silumina on 19th November 2023 as 4 million families are expecting direct relief from the budget.  

“The group that is currently receiving welfare assistance from the government is 2 million. The group that includes government employees, those who are at retirement age and pensioners comprise 2 million. Inclusive of private sector employees, out of the 5.5 – 6 million, 4 million families in the country are anticipating direct relief from the budget.” 

Reportedly, he based this figure on two groups: (i) 2 million currently receive welfare assistance from the government, and (ii) 2 million are government employees or those eligible for pension.  

Even though the number quoted in the newspaper for government employees and pensioners aligns with official data, the inclusion of this group as ‘families’ anticipating ‘relief’ from the budget is inaccurate on three grounds.  

Welfare normally refers to assistance provided on need basis criteria, or universal provision of social goods. Therefore, first, employment wages of government servants cannot be considered as welfare. Second, pensions, a form of entitlement based on previous employment, also cannot be considered as welfare. Third, the 2 million individuals identified in this group do not translate into 2 million separate families. 

Additional note 1 – The total consists of public servants at National level (783,238), Provincial Councils and Local Authorities level (398,528), and State-Owned Enterprise employees (212,117). 

Additional note 2 – Pensions are categorised as ‘transfers’ in the budget, technically, the state minister’s classification of pensions as government assistance aligns with budgetary accounting practices. 


Welfare Benefit Board website. https://www.wbb.gov.lk/#

Ministry of Finance, Annual Report 2022. https://www.treasury.gov.lk/api/file/39a16e61-7659-476b-8f18-d969c7a69733

Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies, Budget Estimates 2024: Volume I. https://www.treasury.gov.lk/api/file/91e9918b-f6cd-486d-8f3a-fd87e5fcb091

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