The Opposition United National Party also agreed with the clarion call of the JVP led trade unions- predominantly the Inter- Company Employees’ Union for the Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) investments in the Colombo Stock Exchange be audited.
The proposal was to have the investments audited either by the Auditor General or by an independent auditor which will give a true and fair view of how the investments have faired.
"While we have unearthed the tip of the iceberg which has proved that the government is manipulating the EPF funds in the Colombo Stock Exchange through the aborted national Savings Bank/ The Finance Company share deal, the EPF, ETF, the Bank of Ceylon Fund, the Pension Fund, Insurance Reserve Fund which are the captive sources at the disposal of the government and they have been subject to insider dealing and exposed to the sycophants of the government to make vast amounts of money, Colombo District UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake told The Island Financial Review.
He said : " They have had vast amounts of money in stock exchange listed corporates such as Laugfs Gas, Nawalaoka, Galadari, Ceylon Grain Elevators, Browns, and others. It is also of paramount importance that the government, on behalf of all the stakeholders, forces itself to be subject itself to an audit either by the Auditor General himself or an independent auditor so that it could justify the reasons as to why it bought these shares at such high prices and also explain the drastic drop is the values of these shares as of today which has tantamounted to the losses of Rs. 15 billion to stakeholders"
This follows the trade unions, spearheaded by the JVP – led Inter Company Employees Union announcing that they shortly seek Supreme Court intervention to force the government to audit the investments of the Employees Provident Fund in the Colombo Stock Exchange.
"This is indeed very mandatory that this is done at the earliest possible time as EPF investments in the Colombo Stock Market amounting to Rs. 60 billion has resulted in a Rs. 12 billion capital loss and it is now worth only Rs. 48 billion," President of the Inter- Company Employees Union Wasantha Samarasinghe told The Island in an interview last week.
We are already talking to trade union leaders who represent the private sector and we will be going for litigation in the Supreme Court as there is no transparency in these transactions which is public property, Samarasinghe said.
These unions also expressed solidarity and agreement to sink in their differences with other political parties in the common goal of safeguarding the interests of the nation’s largest pension fund.
One of the proposals that these trade unions will be seeking through the Supreme Court will be for the creation of legislation for the EPF to have two trade union leaders on its Board of Directors in the same manner as the Employees Trust Fund. "If the ETF could have two members of the trade unions on its Board of Directors, there is nothing to stop the EPF also having same, Samarasinghe stressed.
One of the concerns expressed by the trade union leader was the arbitrary investments of the EPF in the Colombo Stock Exchange were permission was given only for the fund to invest in blue chips in accordance with EPF Act No 5(E). He also explained a judgment given by former Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabayson who said that even investments in Colombo Stock Exchange listed blue chips should only done with advise
Some of the other concerns that were expressed in the EPF investments in selected shares was in Ceylon Grain Elevators where the share which was trading Rs. 250 was now trading at Rs. 48.
"The EPF, however, as a mitigatory measure, had bought some shares while it was on a downward trend at Rs. 185, but the total capital loss was Rs. 700 million on an investment of Rs. 3 billion," he said. The investment into the shares of Laugfs Holdings where 57 million shares were bought at an investment of Rs. 3.3 billion had nosedived to Rs. 1.4 billion, he charged.