President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his Government has never considered people with disabilities as a burden but as an asset.
The Government’s efforts are directed towards recognizing their value, treating them as equals, rewarding their hard work and providing them with support and avenues to win in life, he said.
The President pointed out that his Government has introduced many initiatives to support disabled people such as providing a Rs. 250,000 grant to set up livelihood ventures, allocating Rs. 7 billion to provide housing facilities, educational opportunities at technological and vocational education institutes etc. and removing many social barriers which undermine their self-respect.
President Rajapaksa was speaking at the national ceremony yesterday (Dec. 04) to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, at Temple Trees with the participation of over 5,000 persons with disabilities.
What persons with disabilities need is not sympathy but support and equal opportunities to come up in life independently, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said while outlining his government’s efforts to help such people realizing their needs and aspirations.
The President told the gathering that disabilities should not be considered as obstacles to emerge victorious in life. Pointing out to the gathering the President noted that there were scientists, literati, politicians, entrepreneurs and professionals in the hall who have come up in life despite disabilities.
The President said his Government will always work towards providing assistance for people with disabilities to come up in life and make them productive citizens who are key stakeholders in the nation's progress.
The President recalled that the Government of Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike had given much assistance to encourage various economic enterprises of persons with disabilities and had even allocated special centres in markets to sell their products. However this assistance fell apart after 1977, he said.