A fresh controversy has arisen over investments by the Employees Trust Fund (EPF) with the government saying in parliament that the investment policy guidelines were changed in 2009.
“This is unbelievable. For the first time the Central Bank (CB) has admitted they could not invest in banks! And now saying they changed policy in 2009!!!! More questions than answers... Why were they silent for three years?” asked UNP MP and economist Harsha de Silva.
He was responding to a statement by Deputy Finance Minister Geethanjana Gunawardene that "the investment policy statement and standards of professional conduct of EPF issued in 2002, which stated that the EPF could not invest in stocks of the banking and financial sectors, is now updated and the EPF has invested in the banking sector since 2009, following the decision taken by the monetary board.” The deputy minister’s statement in parliament also follows a CB statement earlier this week reiterating that the EPF follows laid out investment policy guidelines.
“This position has been publicly confirmed by the EPF on many previous occasions too, but regretfully, certain Members of Parliament of the Opposition, have chosen not to acknowledge such clarification, and have continued to allege that internal guidelines have been violated, as if no response has been received from the EPF. In that context, the EPF wishes to once again firmly and categorically, state that its investments in the stock market have been made in accordance with internal guidelines and has had the approval of the Investment Committee and the ratification of the Monetary Board,” it said.
On Friday Dr De Silva asked why a media release was not issued on the change in guidelines.“Surely the CB could have made this statement long before yesterday (Thursday). Also instead of an official EPF statement it was hidden inside a statement of the deputy minister.”