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Sri Lanka pension fund should publish annual report: legislator
06 Jan, 2012 07:58:31
Jan 06, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's main opposition has called for the immediate publication an annual report of the island's largest pension fund also questioned state plans for a 30-storey building using private citizens' pension money.
Sri Lanka's employee's provident fund (EPF) where contributions from private citizens' salaries are kept is managed by the state but its annual report for 2010 has not been published through it is now 2012, an opposition legislator said.

United National Party legislator Harsha de Silva asked the state to delay an amendment to the EPF governing law to be scheduled to be brought to parliament on January 18, until there have been broader consultations.

There was a provision to start a pension, and construct a 30-storey building using people's pension money, he said.

"The UNP's official position is do not bring this on the 18th, postpone it until there is a discussion with the national labour advisory council, political parties, a broader discussion with trade unions," de Silva said.

"They should at least respect what Roshen Chanaka died for."

An attempt to forcibly create a third state managed pension fund out of people's salaries resulted in protests where Roshen Chanaka, an export zone worker was shot by police and died. Even his funeral was carried out under heavy armed guard.

Under the current EPF law, private sector citizens are able to get the money collected in the fund as a lump sum and invest it as they wish after that.

A pension (which involves a monthly annuity) will allow the state and rulers to control the private sector workers money for a longer period. The bill to create a pension has still not been taken off the order book of the parliament.

"Roshen Chanaka's life was taken because he was fighting for the economic freedom not just for himself but for all seven million people who work in this country," de Silva said.

"Respect that and don't bring it from the back door and rush it through, but instead have a discussion and have agreement."

Though nominally a democracy, Sri Lanka's rulers have used parliamentary majorities to steal the economic freedoms of citizens and violate their rights for decades.

Last year the state pushed through a secretly hatched an expropriation law, violating property rights of the people, while throughout Asia, from China to Vietnam state are bringing laws to strengthen property rights previously violated under Marxist doctrines.

State management of private citizen's forced savings pension money has increasingly become controversial.

The EPF in particular had been long accused of being a so-called 'captive source' which rulers used for financial repression (to keep interest rates artificially low) creating high inflation and currency depreciation.

In recent years the EPF, which now has a trillion rupees under management, started putting more money into stock markets in a welcome move.

But several investments ran into controversy following the purchase of some fundamentally weak stocks at high prices and the fund dabbling in bank shares.

The EPF is managed by the Central Bank which also regulates banks. Critics say EPF purchases of bank stock are tantamount to insider dealing and a conflict of interest.

De Silva said the EPF annual report has not been submitted parliament even for 2010.

"The 1958 Act of the EPF says, the balance sheet income statement, cashflow statement and investment statement, has to be generated by the 31st of March of the next year, for the previous year," he said.

"The annual report must then be presented to parliament with the observations of the auditor general."

As of January 2012, the parliament has been informed in writing that the 2010 annual report is not ready, de Silva said.

The annual report should contain details of stock purchases, their cost and market price, he said.

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READER COMMENT(S)
4. anon Jan 10
Oh, I have just made up my mind that most of my hard earned money is been siphoned off by all theses democratically elected governments under various pretexts, and live with it.
3. EPF contributer Jan 09
This is our hard earned money and central bank should be compliance with the rules, where they have already imposed to other institutions.
2. Andare Jan 06
Watath Niyarath Goyam ka nam kata kiyamda ae amaruwa.
1. EPF member Jan 06
This is an eye opener for all EPF members about the sad state of governance which CB has practised with respect to a fund managed by it thereby denying EPF members of the right to information.

It is also contrary to what CB preaches to others that they should publish their accounts on time.