By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Even after over 30 years, the Kuwait Compensation Fund set up at the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE) still has Rs.3.92 billion remitted by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), Finance Ministry records revealed.
This was the balance amount after payment for compensation from a total sum of US$348 million remitted by the UNCC to pay 87,000 Sri Lankans who were employed in Kuwait during that country’s invasion by Iraq in 1990.
The payments are yet to be made because the bureau “had not implemented a formal methodology to pay compensations to the relevant workers’, the report on the SLBFE observed.
This balance money has been shown in accounts as a capital reserve when it should be entered in books as a long-term liability, the report indicated.
The SLBFE cannot use funds remitted by the UNCC as compensation for long term investment projects or expenses by claiming it as a capital reserve, a senior Treasury official said.
Further indicating the SLBFE’s failure to make the compensation, there were 251 Sri Lankan migrant workers affected by the Gulf war still awaiting payment.
The attention of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) was drawn to the actions taken to productively utilize the Kuwait Compensation Fund and the opinion of the General Treasury in relation to the matter.
The General Manager of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau stated that some proposals had been presented in concurrence with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the General Treasury to create a revolving fund with the remittances of the migrant workers with a low interest rate and that the proposal would be presented.
The General Manager replied that Rs. 1,200 million have been paid and there is no further payment due when the Auditor General investigated whether Funds have been requested by the General Treasury at a certain instance as these funds had been received during the period of the Gulf War.
The Accounting Officer (AO) stated that Currently, more funds have been requested from the Bureau by the Treasury
A request for an amount of Rs.3 billion was made by the General Treasury recently and a discussion was held with the Deputy Secretary to the General Treasury and the Director General of the Budget Department.
Currently actions are being taken by the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau in this regard and the relevant board paper will be presented at the upcoming Board Meeting.