Public fury over massive tax on EPF


By Shamindra Ferdinando

A man reading an Inter Company Employees’ Union poster against the moves toimpose a staggering 28 per cent tax on EPF. Pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja

Former Ceylon Bank Employees Union President and civil society activist Rusiripala Tennakoon yesterday urged the ruling Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition and the Joint Opposition to state their position on alleged moves to impose a staggering 28 per cent tax on Employees Provident Fund (EPF).


Pointing out that the JVP, which had worked overtime to oust the Rajapaksa administration, had accused the yahapalana rulers of planning to tax the EPF, Tennakoon said that move had to be condemned, opposed and thwarted.

The trade union activist said that the entire private sector was in a dilemma over the government move and expected a clear statement from it in that regard. Responding to a query, Tennakoon emphasised that all political parties and trade union organizations should address the EPF issue on May Day this year.

President of the Inter-company employees’ union and former MP Wasantha Samarasinghe told The Island that the government was planning to impose a 14 per cent tax on EPF income and 14 per cent withholding tax. Samarasinghe said every effort would be made to thwart government move.

Both Tennakoon and Samarasinghe said that yahapalana rulers should be ashamed of trying to deprive private sector workers of what was legitimately due to them. They pointed out private sector workers weren’t entitled to pensions and were solely dependent on their EPF withdrawals for the rest of their lives after retirement.

Tennakoon flayed the UNP, SLFP and the JO for turning the May Day into a foolish political exercise with each party claiming that it could attract the largest crowd. Tennekoon said that all political parties, including the JVP provided free transport and food to those attending May Day rallies.

Tennakoon said the newly formed National People’s Party (Jathika Mahajana Pakshaya) would hold its May Day meeting at the Red Cross Society hall, Kurunegala. National Organiser of the new political group Tennekoon alleged that major political parties had hijacked the May Day and were working overtime to divert the attention of the public from real issues such as the disgraceful move to tax EPF in the wake of Sri Lanka’s largest fund deprived of an opportunity to function as a primary dealer in the issuance of Central Bank bonds on Feb. 27, 2015. Massive profits earned by primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries now under investigation by a three-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry should be probed, Tennekoon said.

Tennekoon blamed successive governments for not having a clear strategy to manage the EPF though trade unions repeatedly called for efficient and transparent management thereof. He urged those in the government as well as the Opposition to study foreign examples in running such large funds and take tangible measures to provide maximum possible relief to EPF beneficiaries.

Addressing the media at Dr N.M. Perera Center at Cotta Road, Joint Opposition heavyweight Bandula Gunawardena, MP, yesterday said that the grouping was strongly opposed to proposed bid to tax the EPF. The Colombo District MP was responding to a query by The Island whether the JO would oppose the despicable move to tax the EPF.

Gunawardena played down the importance of the EPF issue asserting that there were much bigger issues such as a recent bid to introduce controversial Foreign Exchange Bill in parliament on the sly. The SLFPer said that he on behalf of the JO and two other lawyers had moved the Supreme Court against the proposed Bill. Alleging that an attempt was being made to dilute the powers of the Monetary Board, MP Gunawardena claimed that the challenged Bill was meant to pave the way for funds held by the LTTE rump and other diaspora elements to be brought into the country.

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