BOI to shed staff with VRS

By Thushara Matthias
The Treasury has approved a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the Board of Investment to reduce the number of employees in order to improve the organisation's productivity and make its services more efficient, BOI officials said.

The VRS will be extended to employees willing to retire prematurely and accept a maximum sum of Rs. 750,000 in addition to the statutory payments as part of the organisational restructuring of the BOI. It now employs 1,300 people.

The BOI is being downsized with the passing of the new BOI Act in Parliament in December that established five Regional Economic Commissions in the Western, Central, Southern, North Western and North Eastern provinces.

The maximum compensation received by an employee would be Rs. 750,000. Apart from this lump sum, they will also receive the balances in the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employees' Trust Fund (ETF) accounts and the gratuity payments.

As has been the practice at the BOI, any income tax levied by the Department of Inland Revenue on such receipts will be reimbursed by the BOI to the employees retiring under the VRS for which the retiring age is 60 years.

BOI sources said it does not wish to lose professionals who are experts in various fields.

Under the VRS permanent employees who count ten years or more of service will be paid two months' salary for each year of service, and for service forgone, one month's salary for each year of service.

Permanent employees who have less than ten years of service would get four months' salary for each year of service. The minimum compensation would be 18 months' salary or Rs. 150,000, whichever is lower. Casual or contract employees would get two months' salary for each year of service and a minimum compensation of 12 months' salary.

The Treasury has made it clear that employees retiring under this scheme will not be allowed to join the public service including public corporations, statutory boards and government-owned companies.

Jaffna businesses get connected

Two business chambers in Jaffna are to join the business information service operated by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to deliver a wide range of business information to clients within and outside Sri Lanka.

A delegation of senior business leaders from the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to Jaffna to sign agreements with the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce (JCC) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Yalpanam (CCIY) to make them an integral part of the business information service.

The visit was organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Sri Lanka-German Enterprise Information Project (EIP) of the GTZ, the German Agency for Technical Co-operation.

"This mission was organised to demonstrate the business community's support to the ongoing peace negotiations and enhancing business links in the north," a statement from the chamber said.

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Tilak de Zoysa, and Udo Gartner, Team Leader, GTZ-EIP Project are leading the delegation.

Since 1998, the Sri Lanka-German Enterprise Information project has supported the setting up of Business Information Service Centres covering different growth regions and sectors in Sri Lanka.

Presently, EIP-supported Centres are functioning in Colombo, Kurunegala, Kandy and Hambantota. All centres are linked electronically and share one common national-level information platform hosted at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The business community in Jaffna has sought the assistance of members of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in setting up employment generating projects in the peninsula.

The projects identified by them include construction of hotels, agro-based industries such as canning of fruits and vegetables, fisheries (freezing, canning, processing facilities), IT projects, schools, and maintenance of automobiles and tyre retreading. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce plans to make use of this mission to source suitable joint venture partners from the membership for the proposed business schemes in the north.

"The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce believes that the recent developments in the peace process have led to the dawn of the right climate for business development in the north and east and it is timely to build and strengthen trade links with the business sector in the north and east," the statement said.


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