Nest Egg

October 31, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is toying with the idea of starting a provident fund for migrant workers in an attempt to give countrymen a form of saving to live after retirement. Over 1.5 million Sri Lankans, who work and reside overseas, have remitted 1.539 billion dollars to the country during the eight months to August this year.

Last year, worker remittances topped 1.918 billion dollars and the Central Bank expects the figure to double to 3.0 billion dollars by end 2007.

“The government is now looking at starting a Migrant Fund to give some sort of a retirement fund to Sri Lankans who send money home every year,” Labour Minister Athauda Seneviratne said.

If approved, authorities will have to amend the current state pension fund legislations to accommodate the changes, he said.

“We have big pension fund now, the EPF (Employees Provident Fund) is worth about 350 billion rupees, the smaller ETF (Employers Trust Fund) is worth about 60 billion rupees. But migrant workers have no access to invest in these big funds and enjoy the returns as EPF and ETF laws don’t allow it,” he said.

Both EPF and ETF currently managed by government agencies a