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Labour Dept calls for representation on Central Bank’s Monetary Board for EPF decision-making

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Commissioner General of Labor, Prabath Chandrakeerthi flanked by Additional Commissioner (Admin) HKKA Jayasundara (Right) and General Manager of the Shramavasana Fund DR Jayalath at the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Foreign Employment and Labour

During a recent session of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Foreign Employment and Labor in parliament, Department of Labor officials raised concerns about the exclusive decision-making authority of the Central Bank’s Monetary Board over the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). Emphasizing the need for the Labor Department’s representation on the Monetary Board, parliament sources said.

The Committee, convened at the parliamentary complex, primarily addressed the significant contribution of informal sector employees to the EPF. Discussions highlighted that approximately 60% of individuals employed in the service sector operate within the informal economy. The committee underscored that channeling contributions to the EPF from this sector could substantially enhance social security provisions for these workers.

Committee revelations unveiled that presently, around eighty thousand organizations are registered with the Department of Labor for EPF payments. However, the Committee Chairman expressed concerns over the insufficient number of registered companies and directed the Department to establish a comprehensive system to identify unregistered entities liable for employee welfare fund contributions.

Under the leadership of SJB MP Hector Appuhami, the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Foreign Employment and Labor convened at the Parliamentary complex. Labor Department officials informed the committee about the initial steps taken towards digitizing their operations. They disclosed plans for implementing a digital platform known as the National Labor Market Information System to collect labor market-related data efficiently.

Discussions within the committee highlighted challenges arising from discrepancies between the Department of Labor’s and the Central Bank’s methodologies. Members recognized potential obstacles in accessing funds and stressed the necessity of devising a more accurate system for inputting membership information.

The session was attended by MPs including Gamini Lokage, Faisal Kasim, Kapila Athukorala, SM Marikkar, Ishaq Rahman, Sahan Pradeep Withana, and Vadivel Suresh.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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