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COPF approves 4 Gazettes

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Five Gazettes to be presented to Parliament for approval were considered in the Committee on Public Finance recently and approval was obtained for four gazettes.

This approval was given after an analysis of the relevant Gazettes at the Committee on Public Finance which met recently (20) under the chairmanship of Hon. (Dr.) Harsha de Silva, Member of Parliament.

Thus, the approval of the Committee was obtained for Gazette No. 2282/26, which is stipulated under the Value Added Tax Act No. 14 of 2002 as amended by Act No. 6 of 2005. This Gazette was published in relation to increasing the value added tax (VAT) to 12%.

The regulation under the Excise Ordinance published under the Extra Ordinary Gazette No. 2277/62 was also considered here. This Gazette had been imposed in relation to charging a tax of Rs. 50 for a liter of toddy. The said Gazette received the approval of the Committee.

The regulation under the Finance Act No. 25 of 2003 published under the Extraordinary Gazette No. 2272/53 was also considered and approved at the Committee. This Gazette was published to reduce the fee charged to each person departing from Ratmalana Airport to an amount of USD 30.

Furthermore, under the Foreign Exchange Act No. 12 of 2017, the order published under the Extraordinary Gazette No. 2296/12 was considered at the Committee. Its purpose is to increase the period of 24 months to 36 months mentioned in the order of the Gazette No. 2234/19 published on June 30th, 2021. The officials also pointed out that this decision was taken with the aim of expanding the market for local products as recommended by the Ministry of Industries. But since the foreign exchange spent for the import of these goods is relatively low and the market lack of these goods as well as the increase in price cannot be borne by the common people, it was discussed in the committee that it is not appropriate to control the imports. Accordingly, it was decided to discuss this further at a future meeting.

The committee pointed out to the relevant officials the need to quickly refer these Gazettes for approval.

Minister Hon. Nalin Fernando, State Minister Hon. (Dr.) Suren Raghavan, Members of Parliament Hon. Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, Hon. Mayantha Dissanayake, Hon. Harshana Rajakaruna and Hon. (Prof) Ranjith Bandara were present at this Committee meeting held.

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Lanka to take up bottom trawling

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When Indian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visits Colombo next week, the government is to take up the issue of Indian fishermen entering Sri Lanka’s northern territorial waters three days a week and engaging in illegal bottom trawling, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda said.

The Indian fishermen are expected to be back in Sri Lankan waters after a two-month-long annual breeding ban was lifted on Friday.

When President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited New Delhi last Sunday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the matter was raised at a meeting with Minister Dr. Jaishnakar.

“As a nation, we have to protect our resources, interests, and the livelihood of our fisherfolks. I hope to raise the issue in the next Cabinet meeting (June 19) as well,” Minister Devananda said.

Days before the Indian authorities lifted the annual breeding ban, a group of fishermen’s unions based in the North handed over a petition on Tuesday to officials at the Indian consulate office in Jaffna requesting India to take immediate steps to prevent Indian fishermen from coming into Sri Lankan waters at the expense of their livelihood.

The fishermen’s unions, which formed a collective called the Northern Fishermen’s Alliance, requested President Wickremesinghe

in a petition to urge Indian authorities to “expedite their maximum efforts to monitoring and preventing the daily incursion of thousands of Tamil Nadu trawlers every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings.”

The two-month-long ban, which came into effect on April 14 and was lifted on Friday, is enforced to facilitate the breeding of fish banks in the ocean and maintain the equilibrium of marine sources for sustainability.

Currently, Indian fishermen who engage in fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters are arrested by the Navy and Coast Guard and subjected to legal action after their trawlers are seized.

Following the legal action in which the magistrate courts hand in a suspended sentence of eighteen months for engaging in fishing without a licence, fishermen are released and repatriated with the assistance of Indian diplomatic missions.

(sundaytimes.lk)

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

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Sri Lankan Youth to Be Freed from Cyber Camps in Myanmar

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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasooriya said on his visit to Myanmar, he came to know that more than 100,000 youth from different countries are forcibly housed in the cyber camps in Myanmar, and 53,000 of them are Chinese nationals.

He was speaking to reporters at the Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday after completing an official visit to Myanmar and Thailand.

State Minister Balasooriya said, “We are confident that the 49 Sri Lankans who are forcibly held in cyber camps in Myanmar will be freed in the near future.” In addition to his visit to Myanmar, the State Minister also visited Thailand and discussed bilateral issues with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, as well as several Non-Governmental Organisations. They also discussed the forcible holding of youth from different countries in the cyber camps in Myanmar. They agreed that regional Governments should work together to secure their release.

(sundayobserver.lk)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by sundayobserver.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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IMF proposes new imputed rental income tax for Sri Lanka

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed the introduction of an imputed rental income tax on owner-occupied and vacant residential properties in Sri Lanka, to be implemented by April 1, 2025. 

This recommendation comes as part of the IMF’s latest report on Sri Lanka, highlighting the need for sustained revenue mobilization efforts amid institutional challenges that hindered the initially planned property tax for 2025.

The IMF report emphasizes the importance of establishing a comprehensive property valuation database by August 2024, which will include assessed values, the latest assessment dates, and property types for all municipal councils. 

This database is a crucial step towards the effective implementation of the new tax.

Additionally, the report calls for the full operationalization of a nationwide digital Sales Price and Rents Register (SPRR) by the end of March 2025. 

This register will be accessible by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), the valuation department, the land registry, and the public, serving as a key resource for assessing property values and the imputed rental income tax.

The IMF recognizes ongoing vulnerabilities and uncertainties in Sri Lanka, particularly concerning debt restructuring and the upcoming elections. 

The IMF directors have urged Sri Lankan authorities to continue strengthening macroeconomic policies to restore economic stability and debt sustainability while maintaining the momentum of reforms to promote long-term inclusive growth.

In support of Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms, the IMF Executive Board has completed the 2024 Article IV Consultation and Second Review under the 48-month Extended Fund Facility. 

This completion provides Sri Lanka with immediate access to SDR 254 million (approximately USD 336 million).

Moreover, the IMF has highlighted the importance of enacting the Asset Recovery Bill, following necessary public consultations, by November 2024. This bill is expected to play a significant role in enhancing fiscal responsibility and transparency within the country.

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