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CoPF questions about Gazette delays

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The Committee on Public Finance (CoPF) questioned the officials of the Ministry of Finance as to why it took the Ministry 15 weeks to submit a Gazette published on the 16th of June 2023 to the Committee on Public Finance for approval.

The Committee Members mentioned that, as a result, the Committee faces criticism for delaying the approval of certain Gazettes. In reality, it is the Ministry that causes these delays by submitting the Gazettes late, leaving the Committee insufficient time for thorough analysis and consideration. The Committee emphatically instructed the officials to ensure that Gazettes intended for consideration are promptly sent to the Committee, without any unnecessary delays, and expressed great dissatisfaction with the current delays.

The aforesaid was stated at the Committee on Public Finance held recently in Parliament, Chaired by Dr. Harsha de Silva when the Committee met to consider and approve a Resolution under the Customs Ordinance, two Orders under the Excise Ordinance and three orders under the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No. 13 of 1989.

The Committee reconsidered Resolutions under Customs Ordinance (Gazette Extraordinary No. 2336/72, 16th June 2023) at its meeting and noted that ‘soap noodles’ are imported for soap production, with a few companies importing palm oil fatty acids. Due to a new customs duty of 24% on palm fatty acids, certain companies are importing palmitic and lauric acids at lower tax rates in order to produce soap noodles. To maintain market price equality and prevent tax revenue loss, a new tax of 29% is proposed to be imposed on these substituted acids, now categorized under a new HS code. Evidently, the Committee noted its concern regarding the policy inconsistency related to this gazette, as the general policy for importation of raw materials is to implement lower taxes than finished or semi-finished products. However, the Gazette detailing the introduction of new HS codes for these derivatives was approved by the Committee on Public Finance upon further review.

While reviewing the Orders under the Excise Ordinance, the Committee engaged in a thorough discussion regarding the use of counterfeit stickers on liquor bottles and the massive loss of tax revenue to the country, given that 40% of alcohol in the market features counterfeit stickers. The Committee highlighted that since its revelation during the Committee on Ways and Means, numerous raids have been conducted, resulting in a sudden surge in revenue of 2 billion rupees within two weeks for the Excise Department. Consequently, the Committee has decided to further address this issue during a joint meeting with the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Public Accounts. Furthermore, the Committee questioned officials as to why no court cases have been filed to date to pursue such illicit activities. In addition, Dr. Harsha raised concerns about the procurement contract for the digital sticker, as a price discrepancy was observed. A digital sticker costs only 0.20 cents, while the Government is paying the contractor 1.90 rupees per sticker, resulting in an overpayment. Officials stated that this was due to the contract being originally made for the previous physical sticker, and no amendments were made to the contract when stickers were digitalized.

State Minister – Dr. Suren Raghavan, Members of Parliament Chandima Weerakkodi, Nimal Lanza, Dr. Major Pradeep Undugoda, Premnath C. Dolawatte, Madhura Withanage, U.K Sumith Udukumbura, Rauff Hakeem, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Mayantha Dissanayake, Harshana Rajakaruna, were present at this Committee meeting held.

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Notice on rebuilding or compensating housing damaged by bad weather

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Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka, announced that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed to take the necessary measures to either rebuild or provide compensation, subject to a maximum limit, for houses that were completely damaged by the recent adverse weather conditions.

Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka also stated that measures will be implemented to assess the damage and provide compensation, subject to a specified maximum limit, for the repair of partially damaged houses.

Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka shared these views during a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (20), concerning the rebuilding of houses fully and partially damaged by recent adverse weather conditions.

The discussion extensively covered the reconstruction of houses affected by natural calamities such as strong winds, floods and landslides, which have impacted various parts of the country in recent days. The provision of suitable compensation, subject to a maximum limit, was also deliberated.

To ensure appropriate compensation within specified limits, for fully damaged houses upon agreement with beneficiaries, and prompt construction of such houses with the assistance of the Armed Forces. Additionally, the assessment and repair of partially damaged houses, with compensation also subject to a specified maximum limit, were discussed.

Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka also directed District Secretaries to submit formal reports on houses fully and partially damaged by natural calamities.

In attendance at the discussion were State Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, the three commanders of the armed forces, and heads of relevant line Institutions. Participating remotely were District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries via online technology.

(President’s Media Division)

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Piyumi’s income generated from Lollia Skin Care – CID

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The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has initiated a thorough investigation regarding a beauty products manufacturing company named Lollia Skin Care (Pvt) Ltd, which is said to be the main source of income of model Piyumi Hansamali, who is under investigation for her assets.

It was informed to the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday by the Illegal Assets Investigation Division of the CID. This company has been registered under the Business Registration Number PV00256805.

According to the CID, the investigation will be focused on businesses carried out by this company, taxes paid and also the imports and exports carried out by the company.

The Illegal Assets Investigation Division of the CID on Wednesday (19) informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court that an investigation was initiated regarding the purchase of a Range Rover Jeep for Rs.78 million, the purchase of a house from Grand Housing Complex in Colombo 7 for Rs.148 million and maintaining 20 bank accounts with suspicious transactions by Piyumi Hansamali. It has been revealed that these 20 accounts have been opened in relation to the National Identity Card numbers of her and people closely associating the model.

The investigations were based on a complaint lodged by President of the ‘Magen Ratata’ organization Sanjaya Mahawatta under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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

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Dharma Rashmi Homagama Poson Zone to commence today

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The Dharma Rashmi Homagama Poson Zone annually held to coincide with the Poson Poya will be held from June 21 – 23.

This year, the Poson Zone spans across 13 kilometres covering Diyagama, Pitipana, Dampe, Meegoda, Godagama, Panagoda and Homagama.

The event is jointly organized by the Homagama Sasanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya, the Presidential Secretariat, the Transport and Highways Ministry, the Western Provincial Council, the Homagama Divisional Secretariat, Homagama Pradeshiya Sabha, the Homagama Zonal Education office, the Army and the Police.

Cash prizes to the value of Rs. 4 million will be given to the winners of the Poson Lantern competition.

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