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Special Unit vital to advise government on tax policies – Suresh Perera

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Sri Lanka urgently needs a special unit with authority to advise the government on tax systems, said Principal of the Tax & Regulatory Division of KPMG in Sri Lanka, Suresh Perera.

Tax consultant Suresh Perera was speaking at an Advocate Institute hosted event in Colombo on Wednesday.

“Currently Finance Ministers impose taxes without studying the ground situation and this is detrimental to the country. For several decades taxes have been implemented on a trial and error basis,” he said.

The golden rule in tax is that they should be imposed to discourage some sectors and encourage others. For example, in most countries high taxes are levied on alcohol, cigarettes while less taxes are imposed on SMEs, exporters, agriculture, tourism and similar sectors. “But in Sri Lanka this does not happen and in most cases all are taxed at the same rate.”

“Another area is to implement the Robin Hood system where more taxes are taken from the people who have more. But this too does not happen,” Perera said.

In 2019 sweeping tax reduction was done without any survey and if a powerful advisory unit was in place it would have advised and shown the politicians of the adverse effects of reducing taxes.

“Recently the IMF too identified this issue and I think a powerful tax policy unit will be introduced soon which will spell out short or long term policies,” he said.

Sri Lanka had also offered so many tax amnesties. Due to this many people also knew that this was coming and avoided paying taxes until the amnesty was offered.

The Inland Revenue Department is also understaffed as their cadre is around 2,800. This is a somewhat strange scenario as most of the other public institutions are over staffed. They should also be given new technology to collect taxes. “Hence their cadre should be increased and they should be given a bigger salary so that they won’t be tempted to engage in corruption.

“We know that most of the officers are paid less than 100,000 and due to this most youth don’t like to go there,” Perera said.

He said that Sri Lanka also needs a Tax Ombudsman where people could appeal against what they think are unfair taxes.

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

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Fresh protest in Jaffna over poaching by Indian fishermen

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Associations representing fishermen in the north today  staged a protest in front of the Indian Consulate in Jaffna demanding to stop the Indian trawler that were trespassing in the Sri Lankan waters.

They also met the Indian Consul General Sai Murali and handed over a letter.

The move came as the  government was planning to  take up the issue of poaching with the visiting Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishnakar  who is due on June 20 in Colombo.

When President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited New Delhi on June 9 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the matter was also raised in a separate meeting with Minister Dr Jaishnakar as well.

Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda earlier told the Sunday Times that the government will take up the matter with the visiting Indian Foreign Minister this week as the government is consistent with its policy of preventing Indian fishermen from robbing billions worth of fisheries resources from the Northern Sea.

“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 annual breeding ban was lifted, a group of fishermen’s unions based in North handed over a petition on Tuesday to officials at the Indian Consulate General office in Jaffna requesting them to make immediate steps to prevent Indian fishermen coming into Sri Lankan waters at the expense of their livelihood.

The fishermen unions which formed a collective outfit as Northen Fishermen’s Allaince requested President Wickremesinghe in a petition urged 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 came into effect from April 14 onwards 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 license, fishermen are released and repatriated through 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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President tells Minister Wijeyadasa to quit?

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The Senior Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa has claimed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has pressured Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, to resign from the government.

He alleged that Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe revealed this during a politburo meeting.

However, ‘Ada Derana’ reports that upon contacting Minister Rajapakshe, he said that the statement made by Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa is untrue.  

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 Railways TU action called off

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The Sri Lanka Railways Station Masters’ Union (SLRSMU) has decided to call off their planned trade union action as their demands are being reviewed by the Public Service Commission. 

The Commission is expected to announce its decision by Thursday (20). Meanwhile, train operations are continuing as usual today, according to the SLRSMU.

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