- Says Finance Secy should not be removed by Monetary Board
- Accuses Govt. of trying to get access to EPF funds
- Believes Govt. has no moral right to pass legislation when on cusp of being voted out of power
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday criticised the Government for seeking House approval for a Bill to amend the Finance Act, as an attempt to isolate the Central Bank and also undermine the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Addressing media at the Parliament complex, MP Rajapaksa held the days are numbered for the current Government and as such they have no right to continue amending legislation. He said some of the legislation was aimed at getting access to the EPF that contains the much-valued savings of the working class in the private sector.
“The Central Bank was a part of the Ministry of Finance and this has been the practice on par with the provisions of the Finance Act. Based on the provisions of the Finance Act, the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance was a member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank and he was able to implement fiscal policies of the Government without an issue. The Bill to amend the Finance Act will remove the Secretary of Ministry of Finance from the Monetary Board, giving Central Bank the ability to function independently,” he said.
According to the provisions of the Finance Act, the Central Bank has the sole authority to print money, set benchmark rates, and manage reserves. “The proposed Bill will enable the Central bank to function independently and at its own discretion. Expert opinion should be consulted in case the Government prefers to amend the Finance Act. We believe there is a hidden agenda. We believe the trade unions should take action immediately.”
United Peoples Freedom Alliance MP Bandula Gunawardane held the Finance Act should not be amended for political gains. “Amending the Finance Act is a serious affair and the President should not let the Government do it for the latter’s advantage. The Government is eying the EPF monies. As per the information we have, the Government has plans to rush it through Cabinet and to submit it to the Sectoral Oversight Committee of the Finance Ministry on 18 July,” he said. (AH)