In an Order seen by Sri Lanka’s financial analysts as having far reaching impact on accountable investments of EPF funds, the Right to Information Commission yesterday (27thNovember) directed the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to release details of all govt. securities market transactions of the EPF in 2015 and 2016.
Details ordered to be released related to secondary transactions of the EPF including date of purchase, date of bill/ bond issue (if different from the date of purchase), ISIN number of the bill/bond, coupon rate of the bill/bond, yield to maturity (net of taxes) of the bill/bond, face value of the bill/bond and purchase cost of the bill/bond.
The twenty-one page appeal Order obtained by Colombo Telegraph was handed down by Commission Chair/Commissioners Mahinda Gammampila, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Selvy Thiruchandran and Somapala Punchihewa observes that the public interest in the matter was high, given that the competitive advantage of the EPF must be weighed with the requirement of maintaining transparency and accountability which is also in the interests of the EPF and its members.
It was also pointed out that the CBSL was investing the monies of 17.3 million EPF members collectively i.e. public money, who are mandated by law to contribute to this retirement fund and who do not have the choice of investing their money in other places.
in response to an appeal filed by Verite Research following several appeal hearings before the Commission. Its executive head Dr Nishan de Mel released a message on the social media network Twitter yesterday hailing the decision and pointing out that RTI is the first step in stopping grand corruption.
In a detailed decision, the Commission has dismissed the initial objection raised by CBSL in refusing the information as an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Dismissing two other objections taken before the Commission by CBSL’s senior management based on commercial confidence and the fact that the release may impact on ongoing criminal investigations in relation to alleged frauds, the Commission determined that apart from a query sent by the CBSL to the Attorney-General’s Department requesting the status of the investigation to which no response had been received at the close of submissions, the PA had been unable to demonstrate the prejudice that may conceivably be caused.
It was concluded that the PA has failed to demonstrate how that information, in this instance completed transactions/ past data can be used with certainty by competitors to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the EPF.