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Govt. loses tax revenue due to foreigners’ on-field gem purchases



It was disclosed at the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Sustainable Development that there is a tendency of the government being deprived from receiving the expected tax due to the Chinese and Thai nationals illegally buying local gemstones at very low value from the market. It was further discussed that due to this, injustice is being done to gem businessmen who run their business fairly by paying taxes to the government.

This matter was taken into discussion at the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Sustainable Development as it met to discuss issues related to import, export and re-export in the Gems and Jewellery sector recently in Parliament under the Chairmanship of MP Ajith Mannapperuma.

Representatives of business associations engaged in the Gems and Jewellery sector, officials including the Chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Authority, officials from the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies, officials from the Sri Lanka Customs and the President’s Senior Additional Secretary (Agriculture and Environment) were called before this Committee.

MP Ajith Mannapperuma, Chair of the Committee, pointed out that the main expectation of these discussions is to work to restore the prestigious name of Sri Lankan gems among foreign countries and to get foreign exchange from the export and re-export of gems.

2.5% social security tax scrapped
Officials representing the Ministry of Finance pointed out that an amended Bill has already been submitted to Parliament to exempt the process from the 2.5% social security tax imposed on the importation of gems for re-export, and the relief is to be given to businessmen in the future. It was also revealed that even if you have to pay a tax of 2.5% while importing gems for re-export by courier, you can bring a lot of precious gems as hand luggage by paying only 200 US dollars. The businessmen also asked gem traders to consider the possibility of levying 2.5% on turnover from the 30% income tax levied on profits on gem exports.

In order to avoid the tax levied by the government on cash transactions of more than Rs.500,000/=, the gem businessmen in the field are often tempted to carry out such high value cash transactions in cash and as a result, the businessmen who transact money fairly through banks and pay taxes properly to the government have to leave the field. The Chair of the Gems and Jewellery Authority told the committee that policies are currently being formulated to regulate the encroachment of foreign nationals into the gem industry in the country, and the committee emphasized the need for immediate implementation of the relevant policies.

The jewelers demanded that the import of gold be allowed tax-free through a license based on 30% of the exporter’s previous years’ export earnings or foreign exchange earnings. Officials representing the Ministry of Finance pointed out that there is currently no import hurdle for businessmen registered with the Board of Investment to obtain a permit for temporary importation of gold for export processing. Only import of 24 carat gold jewellery has been stopped, they said.

Sri Lanka Customs officials who were present said that under the TIEP Scheme (Temporary Import for Export Processing), gold can be imported into Sri Lanka without tax by registering with the Ministry of Industries as a raw material required by jewellery businessmen. However, due to the complexity of the process, businessmen expressed their reluctance to do so.

The Committee also focused its attention on the proposal received from gem businessmen regarding the establishment of a Sri Lankan bank in China or the establishment of a Chinese bank in Sri Lanka to facilitate their business activities. The official representing the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said that “Bank of China” has been operating in Sri Lanka since 2018 and establishing a Sri Lankan bank in China is difficult in view of the economic crisis that Sri Lanka is currently facing.

MPs Akila Ellawalaa and Waruna Liyanage, were present at this Committee meeting held. 


19th Asian Games to kick off at Hangzhou in China Today




The 19th edition of the Asian Games is all set to kick off today in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Delayed by a year due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the 19th edition of the event is set to officially begin with a two-hour opening ceremony from 5.30pm.

The opening ceremony for the Asian Games will take place at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, which is capable of accommodating up to 80,000 people.

The stadium was completed in 2018 and is mostly used for soccer matches, features a retractable roof, a circular LED screen, and a natural grass field.

Dating back to 1951, the Games are bigger than the Olympics when it comes to the number of athletes and sports – and this year’s competition is billed as the biggest in history.

Nearly 12,500 athletes – more than ever – from 45 countries and territories will be competing across 40 sports. The Games will be held in 56 venues, 12 of which have been newly built.

The programme includes the more traditional events, such as athletics and swimming but also those which reflect Asia’s diverse sporting culture, such as sepak takraw, or kick volleyball, kabaddi, and wushu, a martial art.

China, as the host country, has the privilege of choosing which sports to include in the programme, with bridge, chess and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) being among the non-Olympic events featured in the schedule.

Meanwhile, e-sports, breakdancing and sport climbing will be making their Games debut, in an effort to attract the interest of younger people.

FIFA Online 4, Street Fighter V and League of Legends are among the seven e-sport medal events.

The Games will see participants competing for 481 gold medals across 15 days.

Sri Lanka is fielding a 96-member contingent with 62 male and 34 female athletes.

The closing ceremony on October 8 will include the handover to Japan before the 2026 Aichi-Nagoya Games.

Qatar will host the Asian Games in 2030.

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Minister of Agriculture explores opportunities to export eggs and chicken




Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera instructed the relevant officials to look into the opportunities of exporting eggs and chicken.

He says that chicken and eggs are already being exported to several countries including the Maldives.

Minister Amaraweera says that Sri Lanka will have to import eggs in the upcoming festive season.

However, he says says that steps have been taken to ensure that eggs and chicken will be produced within the country, by next year.

The Minister of Agriculture says that a surplus of eggs is expected to be created by August 2024, and that plans have already been made to look into the opportunities in the world market.


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Anura Kumara asks Pilleyan if he is still paid by intelligence services




Claiming that the group led by Parliamentarian Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan has been paid Rs.3.5 million per month by the intelligence services, NPP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake questioned whether the group is still being paid that amount. 

He told parliament that Pilleyan’s group has been maintained and paid from the account of the Intelligence Services.   

The MP said this during a cross-talk with Pilleyan after Dissanayake alleged that most of those who were accused of their failure to prevent the Easter attacks and those who were accused of committing the crime such as Pilleyan are with the government now. 

“You and your group were paid and maintained by the intelligence units Rs. 3.5 million per month. We want to know whether you are still being paid,” MP Dissanayake questioned Pilleyan.   

Speaking during the adjournment debate on the exposure by Channel 4 on the Easter Sunday attacks, Dissanayake said reasonable investigation into the Easter attacks cannot be expected as those who were accused of their failure to prevent the attacks and those who were accused of committing the crime such as Pilleyan are with the government now.   

“The faction that failed to prevent the attacks such as then President Maithripala Sirisena, then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, heads of intelligence units such as SIS are with the government. Those who are accused of committing the crime such as Pilleyan and Gotabaya Rajapaksa also represent the government. So, how can we expect a reasonable investigation,” he asked.

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