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Govt. defends EPF return to markets

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  • JVP argues Govt. should reveal returns on specific investments to reassure public

The Government yesterday sought to reassure lawmakers on the new measures that have been taken to secure Employees Provident Fund (EPF) investments in the Colombo stock market, and insisted that the fund will not be misused. 

The Government also pointed out money in the EPF carries a State guarantee.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, responding to JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s question on Government plans to invest EPF money in the stock market again, held the decision-making is the responsibility of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

“The responsibility of the Trust is held with the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in accordance with clause 5 (1) e of the Employees’ Provident Fund Act No 15 of 1958. So, the Monetary Board holds the responsibility of the investments and the returns,” said Kiriella, rejecting any political involvement in the decision.

“The EPF takes part in the Primary Auctions and winning competitive bids, in order to fulfil the Government’s monetary requirements. Therefore, 95% of the investment basket of the EPF includes government securities. The decision-makers who take the decision to invest do not provide such information to third parties. The reinvestment basket of the EPF gets updated every three months and gets published on the website,” he added.

According to Minister Kiriella, the CBSL is carrying out a forensic audit on concerns raised in the report submitted by the Presidential Commission to investigate into questionable bond transactions, and the findings will be made available soon.

Highlighting the EPF’s profitability by investing in selected options, the Minister said: “In 1998, the return on investment was Rs. 9.27 million, in 1999 it was Rs. 43.55 million, and was Rs. 82.53 million in 2000. In 2001 the RoI was Rs. 114.4 million. The RoI was Rs. 236 million, Rs. 706 million, Rs. 438 million, Rs. 912 million, Rs. 439 million, Rs. 224 million, Rs. 347 million, Rs. 1663 million, Rs. 2678 million, Rs. 3016 million, Rs. 5598 million, Rs. 4065 million, Rs. 4714 million, Rs. 2993 million, and Rs. 3894 million in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively.”

However, MP Dissanayake rejected the Government explanation on the EPF re-investment options. “During the past, by investing EPF money in the stock market, controversial investors made money. EPF money was invested in failed companies. There is enough evidence on the use of EPF money to make money for controversial investors. By investing EPF money, the capital losses are incurred. It is better if the Government can show the investment and the Return on Investment (RoI) as a percentage,” said MP Dissanayake. (AH)  

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