Sri Lanka government scraps proposed pension reforms for private sector following protests

June 02, Colombo: Bowing to the pressure from the public, the Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka has decided to withdraw the controversial pension bill for the private sector while retaining the right to re-introduce it with amendments and suggestions of all stakeholders.

Cabinet Spokesperson and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the Cabinet press briefing today that the government has decided to withdraw the proposed scheme.

However, he maintained that the government holds the right to implement a more people-friendly Private Sector Pension Bill and following discussions in the future would reintroduce a new pension scheme for the private sector that would include the amendments proposed by all stakeholders.

The government earlier announced that the proposed pension scheme would be temporarily withdrawn following massive protests against the scheme that resulted in a clash between Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) workers and the police.

The clash between the protesters and the police resulted in injuries to over 150 people including 15 police officers and the death of a 22-year old FTZ employee.

Private sector trade unions have vowed to continue their struggle until the bill is completely withdrawn by the government. They say the proposed scheme does not benefit the employees and the government is trying to pilfer their savings through the scheme.

According to Rambukwella, some opposition forces were instigating the public against the government when the state has acted responsibly following the incident, through the suspension of the bill, the suspension of two police officers and the IGP’s retirement.

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