Amending People’s Bank Act privatisation attempt: SLPP

Thursday, 22 August 2019 00:46 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Bill to amend People’s Bank Act to be taken up by Parliament today
  • SLPP calls on Bank employees to oppose the Amendment

By Nuwan Senarathna

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday criticised amendments proposed to the People’s Bank Act, which is expected to be taken up in Parliament today, as an attempt to eventually allow outside investors to buy shares of the Bank, which could ultimately lead to a transfer of ownership and privatisation.

Speaking to media at the SLPP head office, Parliamentarian Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said the Bill to amend the People’s Bank Act No. 29 of 1961 will be debated today in Parliament.

“This is not the first attempt by this Government to privatise crucial public assets. This is a very smart move that even employees might not notice. Even they may struggle to understand the negative impact of this amendment,” Abeywardena told reporters. 

He argued the new Act will enable employees and depositors to buy securities of the Bank, which according to Abeywardena, could eventually be sold to non-bank entities. He insisted enabling Bank employees to own shares was an attempt to pave the way for the private sector to own shares of the Bank.

“How can we be sure that employees will keep all those shares? What if they sell those securities to a third party with the expectation of earning profit? These are just cover-up stories to disguise their attempt to privatise the Bank,” he charged.

Abeywardena requested employees of the People’s Bank to stand against the Government’s decision to amend the People’s Bank Act, which he claimed could put their jobs and customers savings at risk.

“All State Bank employees must fight for this if not the Government will not stop at the People’s Bank. If we cannot prevent this right now, the People’s Bank will have to face what happened to other banks like DFCC.”

Abeywardena claimed under the proposed Bill, the Minister-in-Charge will be able to directly become involved in the operations of the Bank. He argued under such a situation the Board of Directors of the Bank will not be able to function independently.

“They are just trying to fulfil their personal agendas. The Government knows their terms will end soon. Therefore they are attempting to privatise public assets and profit from that,” he claimed.

However, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, issuing a statement on 26 July, stated the proposed amendment to the People’s Bank Act No. 29 of 1961 would enable the Bank to increase the authorised capital and the debentures to strengthen the financial stability and effectiveness of its operations.

The statement further stated once the Amendment is passed, only employees and depositors would be able to own securities, and outsiders would not be able to obtain securities.