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CoPF urges tax on companies earning super gains due to ‘Midnight Gazette’

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The Committee on Public Finance (CoPF) issued a directive to Ministry of Finance officials, instructing them to impose income tax on companies that exploited the ‘midnight gazette’ to make significant profits, which CoPF refers to as ‘super gains,’ in order to compensate for lost revenue. 

The Committee also tasked officials with developing and implementing mechanisms to collect these taxes or providing detailed explanations if they are unable to do so, along with proposing remedial actions to prevent such incidents in the future.

The seriousness of the situation became evident when CoPF obtained essential data related to sugar imports for the past three months from the Department of Customs. CoPF questioned Ministry of Finance officials about the suspicious timing of this tax increase and the surge in sugar imports by certain companies just before the tax hike.

In response, Ministry of Finance officials stated that the tax increase was part of the fiscal-based revenue consolidation program linked to an IMF initiative. Furthermore, they highlighted that the sudden increase in sugar imports was a seasonal occurrence. In light of these claims, the Committee insisted on a comprehensive comparative analysis of previous years to verify these assertions.

The Committee sounded the alarm about specific companies importing unusually large quantities of sugar without concrete evidence supporting the necessity for such massive imports. For example, a company that typically imported 2,000 metric tons of sugar monthly inexplicably imported 10,000 metric tons in October, just before the tax increase, reaping substantial gains as the tax jumped 200-fold from 25 cents to 50 rupees.

Chairman Dr. Harsha de Silva stressed the importance of ending the use of ‘midnight gazettes’ related to special commodity levies. These practices provide the Minister of Finance with unchecked authority to change tax rates or grant tax exemptions to specific companies. This concern aligns with the recommendations made by the IMF in their Governance Diagnostic Report, urging Sri Lanka to eliminate ‘midnight gazettes’ due to their potential for fostering corruption.

State Minister Dr.Suren Raghavan as well as Members of Parliament M. A. Sumanthiran, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Nimal Lanza and Isuru Dodangoda, were present at the Committee meeting held.

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Expressways generate whopping income during Avurudu season

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The expressways have generated an income of Rs. 159,802,950 from April 10 – 13, Road Development Authority (RDA) says.

According to the Director of Expressway Operation Maintenance and Management Division – R.A.D. Kahatapitiya.

Over 4,350,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this period, he has added.
As many as 366,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this three-day period.

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Special transport arrangements to those returning to Colombo

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Special train services are in operation from this evening (April 14) for people to return to Colombo after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays, the Railways Department said.

Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways –  N.J. Indipolage stated that accordingly, eight additional train journeys will be in operation from Badulla, Galle and Beliatta railway stations to Colombo Fort.

The Department of Railways also mentioned that the office trains will be operational as per usual from April 16.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Commission has said that special buses will be deployed to transport those who had gone to their hometowns during the New Year.
Bus associations have also stated that buses to Colombo will be operational.

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Local multi-day fishing trawler seized with ICE & heroin worth over Rs. 3798 Mn.

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In another successful intelligence operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, a local multi-day fishing trawler (01) carrying a large haul of narcotics, with 06 suspects aboard, were intercepted about 133 nautical miles (about 246 km) off Dondra, south of Sri Lanka. 

The operation also resulted in the seizure of another local one-day fishing trawler (01) with 04 suspects, believed to have been there to fetch the consignment of narcotics mid-sea. The operation was mounted by deploying Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship (SLCG) Samudraraksha which made the apprehension on 12th April 2024.

 The haul of narcotics included about 179kg and 906g of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) and about 83kg and 582g of heroin (with their packages). The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera arrived at the Galle Harbour on 13th April to inspect the consignment of narcotics held in this operation.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard regularly patrol and conduct search operations along the island’s coast to prevent illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, stemming via sea routes.

During this dedicated operation based on naval intelligence, a suspicious multi-day fishing trawler, which was about 133 nautical miles (246 km) off the south coast of the island, was intercepted and searched by SLCG Samudraraksha. As the fishing trawler was suspected of smuggling a haul of crystal methamphetamine and heroin in 17 sacks, during the search, the narcotic-carrying trawler was held on 12th April, with 06 suspects aboard.

Additionally, SLCG Samudraraksha inspected another local one-day fishing trawler, which was plying suspiciously in the sea area. During the inspection, 04 suspects were apprehended, along with the trawler, on suspicion of attempting to exchange narcotics with the multi-day trawler previously seized.

Following a thorough search of the suspicious multi-day fishing trawler at the Galle Harbour on 13th April, authorities recovered 17 sacks containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The haul of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 179kg and 906g (including packages), were in 129 packages, stuffed in 13 sacks and the stash of heroin, weighing about 83kg and 582g (including packages), were in 76 packages, contained in 04 sacks. The consignment of narcotics, along with the 06 suspects and the multi-day fishing trawler was handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) for onward legal action.

Moreover, the 04 individuals, along with the one-day fishing trawler, which were seized on suspicion of being involved in a drug exchange at sea, were also handed over to PNB for further legal action.

The individuals held in the operation are known to reside in the Weligama, Imaduwa, and Galle areas, ranging in age from 23 to 54 years old. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the consignment of drugs seized during this operation is believed to be more than Rs. 3798 million.

Including the recent confiscation, the Sri Lanka Navy has held drugs with a gross street value of over Rs. 9300 million during operations mounted so far in 2024. The Sri Lanka Navy – the country’s first line of defence is committed to coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, to carry out anti-drug operations of this nature in order to foil drug smuggling attempts being made in the guise of fishing.

(navy.lk)

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