EPF tangles unanswered

Thursday, 20 September 2012 01:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Opposition yesterday charged in Parliament that the Government was deliberately evading questions on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) due to “shady investments” after the issue was postponed for a fifth time.

United National Party (UNP) MP Dr. Harsha de Silva told the Daily FT that he took a “very strong position” in Parliament on the need for the Government to answer queries on EPF.  “What happened was that my question on EPF investments was postponed for the fifth time by another two months and I protested to the Speaker. Deputy Minister Geethanjana Gunawardene took cover under subjudice condition and the Speaker said he needs to look into that,” he said.

However, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had explained to the House that this could be done only if there was a criminal matter in court and that regarding the EPF, no cases had as yet reached a court, thus putting the questions beyond the purview of subjudice.

“I took that opportunity to speak on the EPF and its investments in the House during the debate. My position was that the Government was not answering the questions on EPF only because then the country would know the ugly truth. I specifically mentioned the fact that in the annual accounts of The Finance Company (TFC) released in mid August 2012, the auditors had doubts of TFC’s ‘going concern’ status and also that they continue to violate directions issued by the Central Bank (CB) under the provisions of the Finance Business Act No. 42 of 2011 even under its restructuring plan, but yet the CB continued to issue statements that TFC was diligently complying with all directives and regulations and not to be ‘misled’ by politicians.”

Referring to TFC’s losses in the previous year, Dr. de Silva charged that such “hugely loss-making companies whose very ‘going concern’ status has come under question are the companies that CB endorsed and used EPF to purchase shares in.”

He had also argued that because of such “shady transactions, the CB is not providing the answers to questions”.

The MP dismissed counter comments made by Senior Minister Sarath Amunugama by insisting that his questions were very different to those asked by Wickremesinghe and demanded that the queries be answered.