On the 23rd of March 2020, President Gotabaya Rajapaksha initiated the “Itukama” COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund. The fund’s purpose was to “strengthen the mitigation activities aimed at controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country and related social welfare programmes”. The fund was financed through donations received from organisations and individuals.
In order to assess how the fund has been utilized, Verité Research filed a Right to Information (RTI) request with the Presidential Secretariat on the 15th of March 2021. In response to this RTI request, the Presidential Secretariat outlined that the total fund balance as of 31st January 2021, was over LKR 1,700 million.
However, only 6% (LKR 105 million) of this amount has been spent on areas such as PCR testing (LKR 42.6 million), quarantine facilities (LKR 38 million), and advocacy programmes (LKR 24.4 million).