Pension scheme for private sector
A pension scheme for
private sector employees is, on the face of it, a laudable
measure and needs to be warmly welcomed. The prime reason for
this is the inability of many private sector personnel to cope
with living costs and kindred difficulties once they retire from
service. Therefore, a pension payment would be hugely welcomed
by most of these retired employees in the evening of their
The pension scheme has had the endorsement of a number of
trade unions and this is a pointer to the wide acceptance of the
scheme among the generality of the local public. President
Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken the judicious step of conducting
comprehensive and wide-ranging consultations on the scheme and
the task before the state would be to take into consideration
all valid views before completely formulating and implementing
the pension scheme. In other words, the views of all relevant
parties must be strongly considered.
However, the scheme has got a shot in the arm in the form of
the statement by the Employers' Federation of Ceylon Director
General Ravi Peiris that his organization would not oppose the
concept of a private pension, although consultations among all
stakeholders need to continue in view of the complex nature of
some of the issues relating to the relevant Bill.
This is a sensible approach to the Bill and it goes without
saying that a consensus on the scheme is the ideal. We urge all
relevant parties to continue with their consultations with a
view to arriving at this consensus, because the scheme should be
a fool-proof one which should not turn out to be an unfeasible
proposition later on.
Nevertheless, there could be no denying that the pension Bill
is an intrinsically good one and needs to be looked upon
favourably. This is on account of the relief it potentially
offers to all private sector employees who, thus far, have had
to fall back on only their EPF and ETF end- of- employment
payments, as security against a usually uncertain economic
The vastly increasing number of elders in our population,
makes the need for a pension of some sort very urgent.
It is now widely accepted that EPF and ETF payments, although
very welcome, do not prove very adequate in the facing of rising
living costs. If a pensioner who is burdened with financial
commitments of a major kind, is compelled to use up these
monies, he may very well face a bleak financial future, but if
he has the comfort of knowing that a pension of some sort is
awaiting him, he could face the future with greater confidence.
Therefore, concerns of a humanitarian nature chiefly underpin
the advisability of launching a private sector pension scheme.
No doubt, employees may be compelled to make a further
financial sacrifice at the end of every month for the purpose of
entitling themselves to this pension, but considering the
potential financial relief the scheme could bring private sector
employees, we believe the project should be given a try.
However, as pointed out, the 'nuts and bolts' of the scheme
should be further discussed and ironed out.
While constructive criticism of the proposed pension scheme
should be welcomed, we believe that those making pronouncements
on this issue should refrain from engaging in destructive,
self-serving comments which would not help in qualitatively
advancing the discussion process. The need to garner narrow
political gain in particular should be eschewed.
On close examination it could be found that the proposed
scheme really serves a long felt need. It is the bounden duty of
the state to protect all its citizens against economic
uncertainties and the relevant scheme could adequately serve
this purpose if carried out in good faith. The state could do
with some critical but well meaning input from sections of the
public on the scheme and we believe the common good would be
served through an exercise of this kind. Therefore, a meeting of
minds is the ideal and we call on all sections to make this
Some of the issues raised in connection with the pension, we
hope, would impress on all the need to speed ahead with the
For, it is economic advancement for all which would enhance
the financial affordability of a private pension scheme. Sri
Lanka has reached Middle Income Country status but we need to
forge ahead to reach further economic heights.