Pension Bill coming again with new look

Senior ministers say Govt. determined to fulfil pledge in Mahinda Chinthanaya
By Damith Wickremasekara

The Government is to go ahead with the controversial private sector pension scheme, after making suitable amendments in consultation with trade unions and others, senior ministers said yesterday.
The decision was taken at a discussion chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday night in the aftermath of Monday’s incidents at Katunayake and the subsequent developments including the protest campaigns.

Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge told the Sunday Times the government hoped to introduce amendments to the proposed private sector pension bill in consultation with trade unions and the public and re-introduce the bill in parliament.

“The proposed private sector pension scheme is a pledge given in the Mahinda Chinthanaya and therefore the promise will be fulfilled,” Mr Lokuge said. He said some sections were campaigning for the private sector pension scheme and therefore the government would be going ahead with the proposal. Mr. Lokgue was apparently referring to pro-government demonstrations calling for the implementation of the scheme.

However, he said the government’s immediate priority would be the restoration of normalcy at the industrial zones where work was disrupted during last week. The ruling UPFA’s General Secretary and Petroleum Resources Minister Susil Premajayantha said there were people demanding that the pension scheme be introduced and therefore the government was determined to go ahead with the scheme in a manner that no body could object to it.

As a prelude to assuring security for investors in the zone, Army’s Colombo Operations Commander S.W.L. Daulagala on Friday addressed factory managers and offered to deploy army personnel to ensure security.

However, most of the managers had objected to the move saying they believe it would be seen by the workers as a hostile move. As a compromise army presence would be posted outside the Free Trade Zone at Katunayake until normality is restored. The Sunday Times learns that factories which were attacked in Monday’s protests are seeking compensation.

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