CB Salary Hike: What’s Next

CB Salary Hike: What’s Next

The issue of the Central Bank salary hike continues to reverberate, with a small group of protesters demonstrating in front of the Central Bank. Moreover, if the parliament fails to take reasonable action on the matter, they too will face widespread criticism.

As the Sunday Times notes, it was undoubtedly an embarrassing moment for the Central Bank Governor, Nandalal Weerasinghe, who had to face a firing squad of parliamentarians. However, much of the talk ended without any concrete outcomes. Parliamentarian Harsha de Silva summed up the meeting, stating that it was an issue of morality. Parliamentarians such as Gamini Waleboda and Gevindu Kumarathunga, who argued that this was an issue of public finance, went unheard .Nandalal Weerasinha appeared in Parliament before the Committee on Public Finance, accompanied by seven others, including Deputy Governors. When Gevindu Kumaratunga raised a query about their presence, asking, “Who are these people?” Governor Weerasinghe replied that they were trade union representatives. Gevindu and others pointed out that they had not been invited, suggesting that Weerasinghe brought them along to explain matters in a calculated way. Most of those trade unions are affiliated with political parties, and some parliamentarians could have found it difficult to confront trade unionists from their own camp.

Government Money

Governor Weerasinghe declared that the pay increase for Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) employees had not utilized government money. However, it was pointed out that the Constitution (Article 148) states that Parliament is in overall control of public finance. Committee Chairman Harsha de Silva read out the provision, and Parliamentarian Charitha Herath, a former Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), confirmed the point with the help of an official from the Attorney General’s Department.

Chairman Harsha de Silva stated in Parliament the next day that the CBSL had the right to increase the salaries of its staff. The CBSL has not disclosed how much salary increases have been implemented and the amounts received by the beneficiaries. A more damning statement was made by a parliamentarian now sitting in the opposition. “I believe the CBSL did not want to give us the figures. I heard that the salary of a laborer is more than Rs 280,000 a month, much more than the salary of the Secretary to the President,” said Herath.

There is a possibility of a parliamentarian presenting a private member’s bill to reverse or make adjustments to the unprecedented salary hike of the Central Bank.

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