Move to tax EPF: Key TU flays govt.

by Shamindra Ferdinando


Free Trade Zone and General Services Employees Union yesterday urged like minded groups and the Opposition to campaign against ongoing moves to impose unprecedented 28 per cent tax on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

The grouping’s joint secretary Asela Dharmapriya told The Island that the EPF issue would be taken up at its May Day rally at Sathosa vehicle yard, D.R. Wijewardene road.

Dharmapriya said trade unions should work in unison to thwart what he called a yahapalana project to steal monies belonging to private sector workers. The trade union activist said the move to impose a staggering 14 per cent tax on EPF income and 14 per cent withholding tax wasn’t acceptable to workers.

Having repeatedly promised to enhance workers’ benefits, the current rulers were busy making plans to deprive them of the funds available to them now, Dharmapriya said Asked whether the grouping would bring the government proposal to the notice of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Dharmapriya underscored the pivotal importance of what he called a massive public outcry. Such a campaign would be far more effective and useful than external intervention, Dharmapriya said, reiterating the grouping’s commitment to a joint protest campaign to force the government to abandon the project.

Dharmapriya said the private sector workers had been seriously concerned about the move to change the current status of the EPF management in the wake of Central Bank bond scam. He said the EPF should continue to be under direct supervision of the Central Bank and moves on the part of the government to change the status quo would be opposed.

The trade unionist flayed the ruling coalition comprising the UNP and the SLFP and the Joint Opposition for not taking up workers’ issues at the May Day. Dharmapriya said that it was nothing but a shame the major political outfits were only interested in showing their strength on the May Day instead addressing workers’ problems.

Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) President Saman Ratnapriya said the EPF and ETF shouldn’t be taxed under any circumstances. The responsibility of the government was to ensure social security schemes were run in an efficient manner to provide relief to beneficiaries.

Ratnapriya said they too opposed change of the EPF management.

Both Dharmapriya and Ratnapriya urged the media to focus on real May Day issues and bring those in power to address problems. Dharmapriya found fault with the media for failing to highlight and aggressively pursue issues affecting the public.

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