Justice Minister to Introduce Bill Curtailing Financial Powers of SOEs, Central Bank Included I Sri Lanka Latest News

In a significant move, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has announced plans to present a bill to Parliament this month aimed at restricting the financial powers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which would encompass the Central Bank. The proposed legislation seeks to transfer the authority for determining staff salaries from the Central Bank to the Finance Ministry and Parliament.

Under the forthcoming bill, SOEs, including the Central Bank, would be stripped of the autonomy to set salaries, with such decisions now falling under the purview of the Finance Ministry and subject to parliamentary oversight. Notably, the Central Bank’s recent proposal for a salary hike for its staff is set to be revoked, although Minister Rajapakshe assured that a reasonable increase would be considered in consultation with the Finance Ministry.

The bill aims to limit SOEs to administrative functions and financial policy decision-making, curbing their authority to independently adjust salaries. Minister Rajapakshe highlighted the lack of clarity regarding the financial powers of SOEs, leading to potential circumvention of parliamentary oversight.

The proposed legislation is slated for presentation this month, with provisions aimed at preventing SOEs from surpassing parliamentary financial mandates. Briefings on the bill will be provided to party leaders in Parliament, with other ministers also expected to contribute proposals to uphold parliamentary financial authority.

Minister Rajapakshe underscored that the timing of the Central Bank staff salary increase coincided with unresolved issues concerning exporters’ fund retention, illegal micro-finance operations, and leasing and pawning center concerns. Opposition Chief Whip Lakshman Kiriella affirmed support for maintaining parliamentary financial powers, citing objections to the Central Bank’s salary increase timing and magnitude.

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