Written by Staff Writer
18 Nov, 2020 | 8:43 pm
COLOMBO (News1st): An opposition lawmaker has criticized plans to extend the compulsory retirement age of employees, citing it as an effort to delay payments under a savings scheme in the country.
Under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) – a social security scheme introduced in 1958 – males could withdraw their savings at the age of 55 and females at 50.
However, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tabling the 2021 budget in Parliament on Tuesday, announced the government’s plans to increase the retirement age of both males and females up to 60.
“This would mean that the payment can be delayed,” Dr Harsha de Silva, a Samagi Jana Balawegaya parliamentarian said during the debate on the second reading of the budget.
He pointed out that the government will be allowed to borrow funds from the EPF at low-interest rates, and invest them while also using it for debt repayments.
“The fund has been set-up for the workforce in the country and not to be used by the government for their own needs,” De Silva insisted.
He raised concerns over disparities over the country’s growth and inflation rates that were released by the governmen.
“The central bank has projected the country’s economic growth to stand at minus 1.7 percent. However, in yesterday’s budget speech it was … projected to stand at 6.7 percent,” the lawmaker pointed out.
De Silva pointed out that foreign nations with stronger economies including India, Japan, UK, Germany, and India have projected economic growth rates for this year.
“The 2019 budget deficit stands at 6.8 percent. However, based on the government’s calculation it stands at 9.6 percent,” the opposition parliamentarian remarked.
He insisted the need to appoint state officials who do not bow down to political figures.
“We have learnt that a top official at the treasury who does not agree with falsifying these calculations has been removed,” De Silva said.
The lawmaker also blamed the government of planning to increase taxes next year, while burdening the people in the country.
“Taxes have been increased by 49.5 percent. On the contrary, individuals have been allowed to bring out black money and invest them at a 1 percent rate,” the Samagi Jana Balawegaya parliamentarian observed.
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