Sri Lanka minister block queries over pension fund losses; new questions emerge

Sept 20, 2007 (LBO) – A government minister blocked reporters from questioning officials about real losses made by a pension fund of private sector workers, as disturbing new information about its management in state hands continued to emerge. The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Sri Lanka’s largest pension fund, is estimated to have made a 37 billion rupee real loss in 2006, compared to an inflation index to which the country’s workers wages are indexed.

Sri Lanka has no inflation accounting, and the concept of real losses to financial assets that earn fixed returns is a concept that people find it difficult to grasp.

But awareness of hidden losses had been growing in recent months as well as the role played by the state in generating such losses.

No Answers

But labour minister Athauda Seneviratne blocked LBO from asking questions about real losses at a news conference Wednesday.

“Right, right. That is enough. We are not going to discuss all these questions for hours,” Seneviratne said at a news conference.

“You raised the question and the answers are given.”

He had earlier tried to interrupt twice saying “No, No.”

LBO insisted that no answer had been given to the question on real returns.