ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s main opposition party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) will present an amendment to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Act to ensure an equitable treatment in restructuring domestic debt, an SJB legislator said.
MP Harsha de Silva told reporters on Wednesday July 12 that the party will propose an amendment that, if passed, will see a minimum benefit paid to EPF members or pay the same interest rate paid to other players in the market, or a rate that reflects inflation.
The amendment will be proposed with 2.6 million active EPF accounts in mind over the next 15 years during which Sri Lanka’s domestic debt restructuring (DDR) will be in effect, said de Silva.
Opposition parties in Sri Lanka according to the SJB have criticed the DDR programme over alleged injustice to EPF members.The EPF is managed by Sri Lanka’s central bank, which in legal terms is its Monetary Board. It is the country’s single largest fund amounting to around 3.4 trillion rupees at present and is also the largest holder of treasury bonds – about 36 percent – which in turn make up over 90 percent of the fund’s total investments.
A claim by SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa that the EPF would lose 12 trillion rupees over 15 years as a result of the DDR exercise was recently refuted by Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe who said it was a misrepresentation of reality.
“You have to consider the entire picture. Anyone is welcome to make alternative proposals, but we have so far not seen any other equitable proposal.
“It’s easy for anyone to nitpick and mislead the public. That’s all I have to say,” said Weerasinghe.