The Monetary Law Act (MLA) has to be amended based on the recommendations of an intellectual committee, and the Opposition will not allow the government to amend it as they please, said Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He was addressing a media briefing at the Parliamentary complex yesterday.
The Opposition Leader said one purpose behind the removal of the Central Bank from the Ministry was so that the government could get their hands on the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).Rajapaksa said the government has brought about a draft bill to amend the Finance Act to remove the Central Bank from the purview of the Finance Ministry.
The Central Bank had continued to operate under the Finance Ministry as per the provisions of the Finance Act. The Secretary to the Finance Ministry who is also a member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank managed to implement the state finance policies. As per the provisions envisaged in the draft bill, the Secretary of the Finance Ministry was removed from the Monetary Board of the Central Bank. The Central Bank could then function as a separate entity, he said.
“The Central Bank is involved in printing currency notes, deciding the interest rates and managing the reserves as per the fiscal policies of the Finance Ministry. If the amendment is made, all such tasks of the Central Bank would be handled by a separate group of officials without being answerable to the Finance Ministry. That is a dangerous situation,” Rajapaksa said.
If the government needed to amend the Monetary Law Act to suit the needs of the present times, then it should be done after those proposed changes were studied by a committee of experts, he said. “There is no urgency to do so. The urgency is because there is a hidden agenda behind the proposed change,” he said.
MP Bandula Gunawardena said the Draft Bill should be studied by a committee appointed by the President. The President should make sure that the bill would not proceed without his approval. Amending the Monetary Law Act is a serious affair, and the President should not let the government to do it for their advantage.
The government is trying to get hold of the EPF monies. As per information we have, the government has plans to rush it through the Cabinet and to submit it to the Sectoral Oversight Committee of the Finance Ministry on July 18,” he said.
MP Gunawardena said the Joint Opposition would seek the support of other parties and organisations against the proposed draft bill and to defeat the government’s move to grab the EPF.