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Finance Ministry discloses measures to lift vehicle import restrictions

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Officials representing the Ministry of Finance have disclosed that they intend to lift all restriction on imports except for private vehicles by the end of 2023. 

The officials stated the aforesaid when the Committee requested for a time frame as to how long such restrictions will be in place post advertently considering the duopolies such restrictions have caused, especially governing wheat flour and tile.

The discussion pertaining to the said was held at the Committee on Public Finance held today (05) in Parliament, Chaired by Dr. Harsha de Silva.

Accordingly, the Committee took into consideration the Regulation under the Imports and Exports (Controls) Act, No. 1 of 1969 published in the Gazette Extraordinary 2341 / 38 of 20.07.2023 and was approved by the Committee.

Migration allowance increased

The Order under the Foreign Exchange Act, No. 12 of 2017 was also considered during the Committee on Public Finance Chaired by Hon. (Dr.) Harsha de Silva and approved. 

Accordingly, the eligible migration allowance for the emigrants who are claiming the migration allowance for the first time was increased from USD 30,000 up to a maximum of USD 50,000 or equivalent in any other designated foreign currency.

The Committee questioned the position of equity for those who migrated the year prior to such order. The officials present stated that emigrants who have already claimed migration allowance could claim the remainder up to a maximum of USD 20,000.

Moreover, the Social Security Contribution Levy (Amendment) Bill was also considered by the Committee on Public Finance and was approved.

 Accordingly, the said Bill intends to amend the said Act to exempt any motor vehicle liable to the excise duty under the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No. 13 of 1989 on the importation in considering excise duty is a composite tax introduced to simplify the tax structure, previously included in the Act.

Furthermore, it also intends to exempt equipment used by persons with disabilities to lower the tax burden on such persons, rough unprocessed gem stones imported for re-exporting after cut and polishing to maintain the competitiveness of such Sri Lankan business in the global market by lowering the tax burden and any items sold at duty free shops, similar to other import taxes.

However, the Committee questioned the officials present regarding the motive, effectiveness and the impact of to exempt equipment used by persons with disabilities to lower the tax burden when access for persons with disability is not being facilitated. 

State Minister Dr. Suren Raghavan, Members of Parliament – Chandima Weerakkodi, Wajira Abeywardana, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Nimal Lanza, Isuru Dodangoda, Dr. Major Pradeep Undugoda, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Madhura Withanage were also present at this Committee meeting held.

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India, Sri Lanka Fishers Hold Firm on Fishing Rights

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Fishermen from India’s Rameswaram are demanding unrestricted access to harvest fish in the waters near Sri Lanka.

However, the Sri Lankan fishermen have reiterated their stance, asserting that there can be no room for concessions.

The recent sentencing of four Indian fishermen by the Delft court for trespassing in the Sea of Sri Lanka has ignited tensions, prompting protest actions among Tamil Nadu’s fishing community.

In response to the court’s decision, the President of Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association engaged in dialogue with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

“The fishermen detained in Sri Lankan prisons must be released. The boats held by the Sri Lanka Navy must also be released. As a permanent solution to the issue, Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian prisons, and Sri Lankan boats must be released,” said  P. Jesuraj, the Leader of the Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association.

The fishing community in Jaffna emphasize that there can be no further leniency or accommodation for any actions that violate established norms.

“The fishing community in the North have been very lenient with the fishermen from Tamil Nadu despite the use of Bottom Trawling to pillage our marine resources. Therefore, we will no longer allow them to pillage the Sea of Sri Lanka using illegal methods,” said Annalingam Annarasa, the Secretary of the Delft Fisheries Association.

(newsfirst.lk)

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“14.3% Surge in new HIV infections in 2023, reveals national program”

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The National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS Prevention Program states that the reporting of new HIV infections has increased by 14.3 percent.

This is higher in 2023 compared to 2022, director, Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana, community medicine specialist said.
She said that last year, 694 new HIV infected people were identified, most of them were men, and the number is 611, which as percentage is 88%. Last year, 81 HIV infected women were reported, which is 11.7 percent as a percentage. It is also
reported that there are 4100 infected people in society.

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Sri Lanka to Host Digital Economy Summit in July

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The State Minister for Technology, Mr. Kanaka Herath, announced that the anticipated National Cyber Security Act will be introduced this year, followed by the establishment of the Cyber Security Authority.

Additionally, the State Minister underscored the preparations made for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka by the end of July. The summit serves as a platform for fostering innovation, collaboration, and investment in digital technologies, thus propelling the country towards a more resilient and prosperous digital economy.

Speaking at a press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President Media Centre (PMC) today (29),

State Minister Herath further said;

The digital economy, which previously stood at 4.73%, has now surpassed the 5% mark, indicating significant growth.

This expansion has notably bolstered the country’s overall economic resilience. To further enhance this momentum, preparations are underway for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka at the end of July. The summit aims to attract both local and foreign investors, with collaborative efforts from foreign embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Investment Promotion facilitating this initiative.

Furthermore, a sum of Rs. 50 million derived from the profits of Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) was allocated to the treasury in the previous year. In line with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal, a new initiative has been launched to uplift small and medium-sized industrialists, who constitute 52% of the country’s economy. This endeavour seeks to empower such enterprises technologically, offering them Good manufacturing practice (GMP) and SLSI certifications. Additionally, plans are underway to facilitate access to low-interest loans through the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with the ultimate goal of guiding these small and medium-sized industrialists into the market.

(dailynews.lk)

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