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DEW: Govt revenue could be even less than nine percent of GDP now

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Apropos ‘DEW: Tax amnesty unconstitutional, encourages corruption’ in July 24th edition of The Island, it has been inadvertently reported that by 2019, the government revenue had dropped to 19 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What the former Minister actually told The Island was that by 2019 the situation was so bad the government revenue was just 09 percent of the GDP. At the time of Dr. N.M. Perera’s tenure as the Finance Minister, the government revenue had been 24 percent of the GDP. Gunasekera said it could be even less now. According to him, one of the primary reasons for the crisis and overall chaotic situation was the wide gap in direct and indirect tax. Ideally direct and indirect taxes should be 65 percent and 35 percent, respectively though at present indirect taxes stood at 85 percent and direct just 15 percent.



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JVP asks public not to be distracted by circuses

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JVP-led NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake has called on people not to be distracted by the ongoing circuses from the burning issues affecting their lives.

Addressing an NPP rally, in Mihintale, last week, Dissanayake said: “The President seems to think that he can govern the country with the help of circuses and other such gimmicks. He spent a huge amount of public funds on the Independence Day celebrations despite protests. Then there were Sinhala Tamil New Year shows, and the Vesak and Poson pandals. Now, he is getting ready to put up a mega military tattoo in August. In the meantime, the state media claims that the economy is thriving and the rupee is rallying steadily against the US dollar. The rupee appreciation is due to a drop in the demand for the dollars more than anything else, and the government is trying to deceive the public.

“People are starving. They are without medicine. The education sector is in crisis. Unemployment rate is on the increase. But the President is busy putting up shows.”

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ICCPR being used against Freedom of Expression–Amnesty International

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Amnesty International has said it is concerned about the arrest of comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya.

“The right to freedom of expression applies to information and ideas of all kinds, including those that may be deeply offensive. Sri Lankan authorities must ensure that all laws, policies and practices aimed at combatting advocacy of hatred are drafted and applied in a strict manner so that they do not lead to unjustified restrictions of freedom of expression of minorities,” it said in a statement.

The Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office said that Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act, which introduces the ICCPR into domestic legislation, has been used time and time again to restrict freedom of expression. It prohibits advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or hostility.

“Advocacy of hatred is more than just the expression of ideas or opinions that are hateful towards members of a particular group, it requires a clear showing of intent to incite others to discriminate, be hostile toward, or commit violence against the group in question. When the expression fails to meet this test, even if it is shocking, offensive, or disturbing, it should be protected by the state. The ICCPR Act was enacted to introduce into domestic legislation the obligations that Sri Lanka committed to abide by after ratifying the human rights treaty. Ironically, the Sri Lankan authorities are using it instead as a tool of repression to target minorities. This must end,” said the statement.

Nathasha Edirisooriya must be released and any pending charges against her must be dropped immediately, said the Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office.

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Man stabbed to death at soup dansala

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 23-year-old man had been knifed to death a ‘dansala’ at Pannila, in Eheliyagoda, on Saturday evening (03), police said.The incident occurred near a soup dansala organised by the victim’s relatives.

Police said that an argument between the victim and another regarding an incident of theft had escalated into a brawl with the assailant stabbing the victim.

The suspect has been identified and the Eheliyagoda Police are conducting further investigations to take the suspect into custody.

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