Opposition Leader accuses govt of trying to rob EPF funds



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By Saman Indrajith


Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday alleged that the government had brought about a draft bill to amend the Finance Act to remove the Central Bank from the purview of the Finance Ministry.


 Addressing a press conference at the Parliamentary complex, the Opposition Leader said that the government was trying to take control of Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).


The Central Bank had been under the Ministry of Finance as per the provisions of the Finance Act, Rajapaksa said.


 The Secretary to the Ministry of Finance who was also a member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank managed to implement the state finance policies. According to the provisions envisaged in the draft bill, the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance would be removed from the Monetary Board of the Central Bank.


"The Central Bank is responsible for printing currency notes, deciding the interest rates and managing the reserves. All such tasks of the Central Bank would be handled by a separate group of officials who won’t abide by the Finance Ministry guidelines. That is a dangerous situation."


 The Opposition Leader noted that if the government needed to amend the Finance Act to suit the needs of the present times, then it should have been done after those proposed changes were thoroughly studied by a committee of experts. "There is no urgency to do so. The government is in a mighty hurry because of its hidden agenda."


MP Bandula Gunawardena said that the Draft Bill should be studied by a committee appointed by the President, who should make sure that the bill would not proceed further without his approval. Amending the Finance Act was a serious matter and the President should not let the government do it according to its whims and fancies. The government was eyeing the EPF monies, he alleged. "We learn that the government has plans to get the Bill approved by the Cabinet and submitted to the Sectoral Oversight Committee of Finance Ministry on July 18."


Gunawardena said that the Joint Opposition would seek the support of other parties and organisations to mobilise the people against the proposed draft bill and to defeat the government’s move to grab the EPF funds.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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