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Price formula needed to regulate wheat price – CoPF

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Dr. Harsha de Silva, Member of Parliament instructed the Auditor General’s Department to calculate the amount of wheat flour currently available in Sri Lanka’s warehouses and submit a forensic audit report regarding the issue pertaining to Wheat flour within 2 months. 

The Parliamentarian was of the view that if there is a price formula for wheat Flour as well, there will be no opportunity to decide the prices according to the wishes of individual parties.

This was discussed when the Committee on Public Finance met recently under the Chairmanship of Hon. (Dr.) Harsha de Silva, Member of Parliament.

The Members of the Committee pointed out that Wheat Flour is being sold at different prices in shops all over Sri Lanka. However, according to the prices given by the Ministry of Finance, one kilo of Wheat Flour can be sold for 198 rupees. The Chair emphasized that two price calculations are being used in setting the price of Wheat Flour and this should be changed.

Although the price has increased due to the increase in the tax imposed on Wheat Flour, the Chair stated to the officials that the increased tax has increased the price of the Wheat Flour that was already in the warehouses of the country.

Price formula needed to regulate wheat price

Recalling the efforts made to prepare a price formula for gas and milk powder last season, the chairman pointed out the dire need of a price formula for regulating the price of wheat. The Committee emphasized that a price formula should be prepared immediately in order to work in a more diversified manner.

CoPF approves tax reductions on more goods under the Singapore -SL FTA

Furthermore, under the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, the Committee on Public Finance approved the reduction of taxes on many other goods. It was approved when the Resolution under the Customs Ordinance published under the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2338/54 was discussed on June 30th, 2023.

Under the said, it was proposed to reduce the tax rate which was 15% to 5%. Granting approval for the said, the Committee questioned the officials regarding the benefits of this trade agreement. However, the official responding to the said stated that it was not possible to conduct a feasibility study. Expressing his displeasure, the Chair instructed the chief officer in charge of the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement to submit a report to the Committee within 6 weeks, presenting logical facts about the agreement.

Resolutions under the Customs Ordinance published under the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2336/72 on 16th June 2023 was further reviewed for a second time. However, the Committee decided not to approve the proposal made under this Gazette. Here, the officials presented a proposal to change the HS code related to the import of raw materials required for soap production. The Committee questioned whether there will be an increase in tax rates on the import of the relevant raw materials. Accordingly, the Chair pointed out that it is questionable for one group of the government to request for the approval to reduce tax and another group to request to increase taxes. In the year 2021, it was revealed to the Committee that no new investment has been made during that period, even though the tax charges have been reduced in the import of raw materials required for soap production. Accordingly, the Chair instructed the concerned officials to conduct a discussion under the leadership of the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance to formulate a policy on tax revision and submit it to the committee.

Furthermore, 2 other gazettes submitted for the Committee’s approval regarding the tax revision under the Special Commodity Levy Act No. 48 of 2007 were approved.

Meanwhile, the Committee discussed the current status of the process related to the establishment of a Gambling Regulatory Authority. Officials stated that they have discussed with several organizations in Singapore and Sri Lanka and have prepared a draft. However, before preparing a final Bill, the Chair instructed the officials to refer the draft to the Committee on Public Finance for approval. Accordingly, the Committee was instructed to provide a comparative report within two weeks pertaining to the existing system in Singapore and the model expected to be created in Sri Lanka regarding the establishment of a Gambling Regulatory Authority.

Furthermore, the Committee instructed the Sri Lanka Board of Investment to submit a detailed report including the amount of investment and its benefits in the last period.

Moreover, during the discussion regarding other matters taken up at the Committee, Hon. Nimal Lanza, Member of Parliament questioned the Sri Lanka Board of Investment regarding the decision made to import palm trees from a foreign country and add value to them and re-export them to India. The Member of Parliament stated that there is a danger of this matter developing into a diplomatic concern. Accordingly, the Parliamentarian requested the Sri Lanka Investment Board to inform the other parties concerned to reconsider the decision.

State Minister Hon. (Dr.) Suren Raghavan, Members of Parliament Hon. Rauff Hakeem, Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka, Hon. Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Hon. Nimal Lanza, Hon. Harshana Rajakaruna, Hon. Madhura Withanage were present at the Committee meeting held.

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Indigo launches Mumbai-Colombo direct flights

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Indigo has expanded its connectivity to Sri Lanka adding Mumbai-Colombo direct flights from today (12), Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Pvt) Limited said.

Accordingly, Indigo will operate flights three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

At present, Indigo operates to three destinations in India from Colombo (Chennai twice daily, Bengaluru once daily and Hyderabad six days per week). With this new route expansion, this will increase to four destinations, and it will contribute immensely to the development of travel, trade and tourism between Sri Lanka and India. 

With the new addition, Indigo will operate 30 weekly flights to Colombo from four main cities in India.

“AASL recently had successful negotiations with Indigo to commence flight operations between Jaffna and Chennai, India. Accordingly, Indigo will commence direct flight operations between Jaffna and Chennai from June 1, 2024 onwards with daily flight operations. This connectivity will boost travel and trade in the Northern Province, strengthening the cultural and religious bonds between the two nations”, Eng. Athula Galketiya, Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Pvt) Limited (AASL) said.

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Questions raised on investing in the Ceylon Dollar Bond

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Personal Foreign Currency Accounts (PFCs) and Business Foreign Currency Accounts  (BFCAs) cannot be invested in the Ceylon Dollar Bond Fund, says a spokesman of the Foreign Exchange Department at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

He said that banks are well aware of this.

The spokesman was responding to ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ on queries raised on social media promotions being done by Ceylon Asset Management Co. Ltd, with regard to such investments.

Ceylon Asset Management Co. Ltd. is also a company that is registered with the CSE.

The spokesman further notes that the CBSL has only permitted them to invest in ISBs.

However, promotions done by the company have indicated that dollar investments can also be done through PFCs, and that the investors can expect around a 24% dollar returns.

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Experts state that expecting such high profits in ISB investments, is questionable.

Upon contacting the DG of Ceylon Asset Management Co. Ltd, – Dulindra Fernando, he briefly stated that the CBSL has permitted their company to do such foreign fund transfers while some banks have refused to do so.

However, he urged to submit a formal request via email for further details.

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SLT divestiture allowed

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The Court of Appeal yesterday vacated the Interim Order issued on the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government-owned shares in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC.

The Interim Order was earlier issued by Court on April 4 when two Writ applications challenged the proposed divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government-owned 50.23 percent shares in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34 percent shares in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitions were filed by Lyca Mobile SARL, Lyca Leasing Holding Ltd, Pettigo Comercio International LDA and HAIMS International Ltd.

When the petitions were considered before Court of Appeal Judge Mohammed Laffar, Additional Solicitor General Sumathi Dharmawardena appearing for the Deputy Director General and the members of the State Owned Enterprise Restructuring Unit Established under the Finance Ministry, Secretary to the Treasury and the Attorney General raised preliminary objections highlighting several technical errors in the power of attorney and the affidavit submitted is not valid.

Accordingly, the court vacated the said Interim Order on the divestiture of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and informed the petitioner of this particular petition to submit fresh power of attorney by April 29 and request for an interim order if necessary. However, the Interim Order issued on the divestiture of the shares of Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC was extended by the court until April 29.

(dailynews.lk)

(This story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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