President announces bonanza for co-op employees | Sunday Observer

President announces bonanza for co-op employees

Announcing new reforms for Sri Lankan cooperatives, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (07) said all employees of cooperatives will be exempt from income tax and be eligible for pensions with immediate effect. Addressing the 96th International Day of Cooperatives in Batticaloa held under the theme ‘Sustainable consumption and production of goods and services’, the President also declared that all employees in the cooperative sector will from now on receive an extra monthly allowance of Rs. 1,000.

“When it comes to procurement of vehicles, cooperatives will also be able to purchase heavy vehicles at concessionary duty rates. These concessions are provided to make the cooperative sector a more viable operation,” President Sirisena said.

Meanwhile, speaking at the event, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said that the government, having understood the severe financial distress faced by members of cooperative societies in which a majority have fallen into the ‘debt trap’, has taken a decision to settle loans of members amounting to Rs. 490 million.

“Of this amount, Rs. 100 million worth of loans has already been settled by the Treasury and the balance will also be settled soon,” the Minister said.

The event which was held to express solidarity with the people associated with cooperatives movement was also attended by Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen and Director of Asia Pacific office of the International Co-operative Alliance, A K Singh. According to official data from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, around 8.5 million or about 40% of Sri Lankan population consist of cooperative members with a considerable number of women from rural villages. There are almost 14,500 cooperatives employing 46,000 people in various productions services, SMEs, women’s development, rural banking, insurance and farming active in Sri Lanka, the Ministry said.

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