‘Henahura landing in a beggar’s bowl’
Posted on March 7th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The Treasury bond scams, currently being probed by a presidential commission, have had a devastating impact on the entire country. The private sector workers are the worst affected. Their superannuation fund or the EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund) had suffered a staggering loss of Rs. 15 bn, the JVP said on Monday. The Marxist outfit demanded that the loss be recovered forthwith from the bond racketeers. Economists and financial experts are also agreed on the amount the EPF has lost.

Private sector workers are left with only the EPF refunds, upon retirement, to tide them over till they go the way of all flesh. The bond racketeers have amassed wealth at the expense of the hapless workers. It is a case of evil-causing ‘Saturn or henahura landing in a beggar’s bowl’ as a local saying goes. Strangely, trade unions have remained silent. Their silence is baffling. They usually take to the streets at the drop of a hat. Is it that they have also sold their souls to the bond thieves?

The JVP may try to take the moral high ground, but it can’t absolve itself of the responsibility for this sorry state of affairs. It was instrumental in bringing about the 2015 regime change and facilitating the formation of the 100-day government. The yahapalana grandees who had been reduced to penury due to their prolonged stay in the Opposition amassed wealth within the first few weeks of capturing power the way Asela Gunaratne blasted sixes and fours in the last two overs of a T-20 match in Geelong last month! The JVP leader was made a member of the so-called National Executive Council (NEC), which virtually governed the country between January and August in 2015.

The JVP, which joined other NEC members in having some of the former UPFA ministers arrested and prosecuted, did not call for action against the then Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his political bosses. It also craftily omitted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s name from the bond scams report prepared by the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) under its MP Sunil Handunnetti’s chairmanship. The Rathu Sahodarayas are also notorious for bowling full tosses, as it were, to UNP ministers in Parliament so that the latter can vilify their opponents.

The JVP prides itself on its role in electing President Maithripala Sirisena. It, no doubt, carried out an effective propaganda campaign against the Rajapaksa government. Within months of his election, their hero, Sirisena, unflinchingly shielded the bond thieves in 2015 by dissolving Parliament before a COPE report was tabled in the House so as to prevent public opinion from turning against the UNP before the general election in that year. President Sirisena, while pontificating on the virtues of good governance, acted out of expediency to help the UNP win as he wanted to ruin Mahinda Rajapaksa’s chances of becoming the Prime Minister.

It is to atone for his sin and tame the UNP, which is becoming increasingly defiant, that President Sirisena has set up a presidential commission to probe the bond scam. He should be asked why he did not do so in 2015 itself.

The yahapalana government made a budget proposal in 2015 that the EPF be removed from the Central Bank supervision and merged with the Employee’s Trust Fund (ETF). We stressed the need for defeating the government move for the sake of the working class. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration wanted to dip into the workers’ fund and found the Central Bank an obstacle in its path. The Rajapaksa government also sought to introduce a private sector pension scheme at the expense of the EPF with an ulterior motive, but in vain.

Workers must sink their political differences and join forces to protect their superannuation fund and have the losses it has suffered owing to the bond scams recovered. They must tell their trade union leaders to fight for their rights or depart.

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