14 June, 2024

Blog

Mr. President, Dawn Of The New Year Is The Time For Reflection & To Redress Citizens Grievances Due To The DDO

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

An Open Letter to the President and Finance Minister,

You have on many occasions in the recent past, publicly pronounced before different audiences, as reflected in Media Releases of the Presidential Secretariat, that Sri Lanka is the only country in Asia that has completely protected democracy, you vow action against Economic Rights violations, always being respectful of Societal Rights of Individuals (reference to burial rites), and most importantly your commitment to rectify mistakes of the past, whilst recognizing the inability to change what has already transpired, but use the power to reverse the situation. As you often quote and commit to respect globally recognized Dhamma values, it may be relevant to note that Buddhist teachings state “after one has hurt someone deeply, it is essential to Recognize what wrong was done, Acknowledge the act and apologize to the victims, Repair the damage, and Resolve never to do it again, even at the risk of death or defeat.

You will recollect the letter dated 5th December 2023, titled “Did the Government Err with the DDO? And thus, fail to be Fair, Just and Equitable towards EPF/ETF and other Superannuation Members?”. This submission was acknowledged by the President’s Office and by the Ministry, with a Senior Assistant Secretary to the President, addressing the Secretary Ministry of Economic Stabilization and National Policies stating, “The letter is submitted for necessary actions within the existing legal framework” and “to inform the applicant regarding the action taken, with a copy to me”

The writer has not received any follow up communications nor seen in media any executive decisions to redress the impacted citizens grievances, despite the pleading para of the submission stating; “In the above context it may be most prudent, fair, reasonable and equitable that the Government led by you, in consultation with the International Monetary Fund and Debt Restructure Advisors, Finance Secretary and the Governor of the Central Bank, to consider how best to recompense the marginalized segment of society negatively impacted by unacceptable assumptions and justifications used in the development of the DDO terms, adopted by a hasty passage without public consultation, blocking avenues for judicial review and intervention, and ignoring the best advice and pleadings of many caring intellectuals in society”.

It is also pertinent for you to note that despite the intervening policy rate downward adjustments, with the Monetary Policy Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka at its meeting held on 25 March 2024, deciding to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate and the Standing Lending Facility Rate by a further 50 basis points to 8.50 per cent and 9.50 per cent respectively, the most recent long term secondary Bond market transactions of bonds maturing in 2027- 2032 are yet trading around 12 % and above; and thus at a significant premium over the newly exchanged long term bond yields of the bonds forced on the Employees Provident Fund stakeholders, as a consequence of the Domestic Debt Optimization process.

In this context it is important for you to recognize that over 2.5 million stakeholder of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and their families (who will be voters at the forthcoming elections) are now aware that they have been inequitably, unfairly, and unreasonably, negatively impacted by the forced debt optimization process implemented by the government under your leadership, and executed without transparency and entwined with gross misleading misrepresentations of ”no harm to the present fund balance and the future returns reducing by 4%”.

These stakeholder families are now well aware that the actual loss of their previously earned future wealth value share of the Fund at retirement, recognizing the investment holdings of the Fund at the date of restructure, has deteriorated not by 4-6 % as alluded in public disclosures by the key officials who led the domestic restructure, but probably as now estimated by economist and analysts to have diminished by around 40%. They have vivid memories of how the Bond Scam and Share investment scams also took a big bite out of their future wealth value at retirement. These families are also aware that the Government undemocratically positioned a loaded gun at the head of the Trustees of the EPF, by placing an unacceptable alternative of a 30% tax on investment income, whilst being aware that most of the stakeholders were in fact not liable for tax at all, and over 90 % of them were not in receipt of monthly incomes of over Rs. 725,000/=, at which salary only the stated marginal rate of 30% becomes applicable. Further they are aware that the rich private investors, primary dealers, banks and insurers and others (who invested in bonds issued in 2022 with high yields subscribing to much more than the investments of Superannuations) were also inequitably exempted from the debt restructure process.

In addition, the key officials who led the domestic restructure expressed expert opinions that future interest yields will significantly decrease with inflation coming down to around 5% and that in the longer term the market bond rates prevalent will yield an acceptable real return to the EPF stakeholders, even at the new exchanged bond yield rates. However, the media reports of 9th April 2024 note that the Central Bank does not expect the government securities yields to ease further from their current levels, contrary to the expert opinion expressed earlier. The current grievances of the EPF stakeholders will certainly enhance significantly in the event external Private Creditors and International Sovereign Bondholders receive a sweeter deal than the equivalent effective loss forced on them.

You and your advisors are well advised to evaluate on a timely basis, the likely fall out politically from failing to remedy the aforesaid grievances and thus also failing to redress by a recompensing offer to correct the injustice meted out to a majority of EPF stakeholders.

In conclusion it is the writer’s fervent hope is that you, wisely keeping in mind the public statements referred at the inception of this submission, your public persona, and the political risks, will soon make a declaration that you will personally commit to redress the grievances of EPF stakeholders and assure democratic, equitable, fair and reasonable recompense measures to be announced, alongside the finalization of the external debt restructure.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 6
    3

    I promise to read the article, but before that … .
    How many ‘dawns’ have you had had, Chandra Jayaratne. Why has it that it has not dawned on you that the dawn never arrives!
    .

  • 5
    0

    Dear Mr Chandra Jayaratne,
    .
    Thank you
    for always standing up for Justice and Fair-play.
    .
    It is difficult for me to understand all intricacies of Economics, but it is clear to me that although all human beings feel that they have a right to exist, and live on this planet for a finite length of time, there are some who exploit others and appropriate for themselves more than their fair share of comfort and well-being.
    .
    Ranil is clearly one of the exploiters. More than all else what he wants is power, and the ability to exercise it at the expense of us all. And so he manipulates.
    .
    It is difficult for us to evaluate all the complexities, but we want, at least, to be allowed to ditch this exploiter at the Presidential Elections to be held later this year, and install a group that is dedicated to ensuring the welfare of all.
    .
    What is that group? I won’t try to answer that. It looks as though we have to be always alert. Ranil and the Rajapaksas are definitely not among those who desire the welfare of all.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

    • 4
      1

      Sinhala_Man

      I have been looking for you to say a few words about AKD’s pilgrimage to the North. I have listen to the entire speech say three times as I was looking for his message. It appeared the usual critique of the policies of the past governments …. It impressed a few who were sitting in the front row, not many in the hall.

      It looked as if AKD was talking without speaking and his audience were hearing without listening.

      He said he was not there for the (Tamil) votes, didn’t promise anything, no for Federal state, no for that this and other, …. as usual JVP will blablablah.

      He didn’t touch upon the structure, nature, … of the state and the 1.6 million state employees. If he is elected he is going to rely on the same old corrupt, lazy, …. clueless, racist, …. bureaucracy to serve him, advise, administer, …. and take the country forward. This is also true with police and armed forces.

      How is he going to restructure, reform, energise, enforce discipline, …….. and democratise entire state structure while depending on them?
      Don’t you think it is bit rich to tell the North he had come bearing no gifts, but to tell them to buzz off, …. ?

      He had no solution to country’s problems nor any response to the non majoritarion issues.

      The usual Rhetoric, wasted opportunity..
      Please refer to
      Is JVP/NPP signalling left and turning right?
      By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya
      Island 2024/04/9

      • 0
        0

        Dear Native Vedda,
        .
        You have correctly reported
        the sort of thing that AKD said in Jaffna; in Sinhalese (which I understood) and seemingly effectively translated into Tamil by two different translators at the (a) Women’s meeting, and (b) the Teachers’ meeting.
        .
        I listened to both. I think that he was trying not to upset anybody by saying that he had come with “designs”.
        .
        I was happy that he exuded friendship. I don’t know whether he can do much more until we know what is in store for us.
        .
        As for State employees: he has admitted (I can’t remember where) that there are too many, and that the NPP will not appoint redundant staff just because they had come for meetings, etc. He pledged not to re-trench staff who have already been employed. Once more playing safe. Rightly, I say. He has to win the election. I’m grateful that he offended none.
        .
        You may be disappointed with me also.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe
        .

      • 1
        0

        I have read though this:
        .
        https://island.lk/is-jvp-npp-signalling-left-and-turning-right/#google_vignette
        .
        Once more, “The JVP has not only moved away from its earlier anti-Indian rhetoric.” Yes, playing safe for now. I agree with Lasanda Kurukulasuriya that having treated local contractors as having first option, it is unwise to turn only to India when the locals are incapable.
        .
        Thanks for tipping me off on all these. Nothing heroic, but corruption will end.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

    • 1
      0

      Ranil’s inability to win elections was widely acknowledged, yet few delved into why. Unlike the Rajapaksas, adept at securing sweeping victories through deception, Ranil lacked that cunning. In politics, power defines one’s significance; without it, you’re inconsequential. Even with formidable authority, Gota’s accomplishments remain questionable. With power finally in his grasp, the opportunity to effect change arises.

      • 1
        0

        Ranil has plenty of cunning, dear Mdias, but little charisma.
        .
        Must we give reasons for not voting for him?
        .
        The NPP leadership is more to my liking – however, I guess one has to be more objective than that, I guess.
        .
        The NPP is now serious about serving the people, and they have a competent team who are much more concerned about the people.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

  • 0
    2

    CJ, when it comes to mammon, calling it EPF or ETF, all eyes get focused on that and want to grab and rob. It may be that unknown to them, it is God who gives ability to produce wealth as promised in Deut. 8,18 In addition Phil.4,19 says he gives, Prov.10,22 says he blesses and 2Cor.9,8 says he is generous. Time to redress citizen’s grievances due to the DDO. People respond well when they are citizens of a law-abiding country.

  • 3
    0

    There are rules and exceptions ……… 99.999999% of the world believe the sun will rise tomorrow ……. and act accordingly.

    99.999999% of politicians take up politics to serve themselves: not the people or the country.

    We believe 00.000001% exception is the rule.

    Is Ranil, the Mr. President, an exception?

    • 0
      0

      nimal, I agree both with the percentage of politicians who are exceptions to the rule, and that Ranil is no exception, but I’m sure that no post-toddler human ever doubted that the sun would rise on the morrow.
      .
      It is true that 1% of us will say that there is no logical reason why the sun must necessarily rise tomorrow. Guys like René Descartes and David Hume taught us that, but they believed in Apollo’s regular appearances.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.