Participating in the committee stage debate on budget 2015 under the expenditure headings of the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations, Minister Lokuge said that funds of the Employees Provident Fund had been invested in share markets in accordance with the legal provisions. “Of the invested funds, 6 percent was invested in the share market and the rest had been used to purchase treasury bills. The EPF monies of all SLTB workers, who retired by Dec 31, 2011, have been deposited in the bank accounts. The party colours would not matter in EPF money management,” the Minister said.
Minister Lokuge said that new laws would be brought about to regulate the manpower agencies. “Whenever there are shortages of workers in a factory, there is a possibility of obtaining the services of one or two workers from the manpower agencies. “This outsourcing of labour has come to stay. Therefore the need has arisen to bring about new laws to regulate them. We have taken up this matter at the Ministry’s Consultative Committee level, but several trade unions and political parties opposed to it.”
Minister Lokuge welcomed the proposal made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to grant permanent appointments for the casual and contract workers who had completed 180 days of work. “Among those casual and contract workers are some whose salaries do not come under the categories of the Wages Board. Negotiations were being conducted to bring about a bill or to issue a gazette making it compulsory to enable each of such workers to receive a Rs 10,000 basic minimum salary each,” he said.
The Minister said that Sri Lanka has been recognized by world powers as a country moving forward very fast. “We are achieving higher status in technological expertise. We have to amend some of the archaic labour laws to attract foreign directed investments. If we want to develop this country it is mandatory that we must increase the volume of our productions and export surplus to the world market,” the minister added. (Special Reporter/HC)