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The overwhelming amount of applicants coupled with a shortage of staff and facilities had handicapped the Labor Department where it had only managed to pay a mere two percent of those who had applied to withdraw 30 percent of their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for housing and medical treatment so far, officials said.

Accordingly, around 1000 applicants, out of approximately 50,000, have been able to withdraw the said amount of their EPF since the commencement of the program in May.

Secretary, Ministry of Labor, Herath Yapa when contacted by the Nation Gain stated that the process to approve and finalize the eligible applicants was tedious due to the lack of staff and equipment. “We have requested the Ministry to increase the manpower,” Yapa said.  This scenario has prompted authorities to open new regional offices to streamline the entire process. Yapa said that the department would open nine regional offices island-wide in the near future to ensure effective process to collect and process the applications.

“We need to ensure that they meet the criteria to be eligible to withdraw the amount. As of now, we have approved the applications of 4000 persons and we have sent them the relevant forms to be filled in and sent to us. We then send them to the Central Bank which handles the fund. We send at least 100 applications per day,” he said. According to senior officials, the Central Bank has paid an amount of approximately Rs.500 million to EPF accountholders who had applied for the facility.