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Finance Secretary acknowledges concerns about national economy



Committee on Public Finance meeting in progress (pic courtesy Parliament)

Tax evasion dominates Public Finance Committee meet

On behalf of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Dr. Harsha de Silva has inquired from Secretary to the Ministry of Finance. Dr.  S.R. Attygalle whether the country is facing an economic crisis as claimed by Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila at a meeting of the Committee on Public Finance in Parliament on Monday. 

The Finance Secretary has replied that in spite of certain economic problems that might arise given the current situation, every effort will be made to manage the economy. This was said at the meeting of the Committee on Public Finance, chaired by senior parliamentarian  Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

The following is the text of a statement issued by the Communications Department of the Parliament, yesterday, regarding Monday’s CPF meeting.”The Committee on Public Finance granted approval on Monday to issue Rs. 1,000 billion Treasury Bills, under the Local Treasury Bills Ordinance which is scheduled to be presented to Parliament for approval by the Hon. Minister of Finance.

The Committee on Public Finance chaired by Anura Pryadarshana Yapa met yesterday (21) in Parliament. Government officials were connected online for the meeting in accordance with health regulations given the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha, and Members of Parliament Dilan Perera, Prof. Ranjith Bandara, Mujibur Rahman, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Anupa Pasqual, Isuru Dodangoda, Nalin Fernando were present at the Committee meeting held.

Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle expressing his views stated that an increase to Rs 3,000 billion from the current limit of Rs. 2000 billion is thus expected.

He  said that this does not imply that the money will be spent within the coming 06 months and that everything will be managed within the borrowing limit approved by the Parliament.

The Committee also approved two regulations to be tabled in Parliament under the, No. 1 of 1969 Imports and Exports (Control) Act presented to Parliament on 08.06.2021.

Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance further stated that given the context where tax relief has been granted for imported vehicles under the category of special purpose vehicles, this opportunity given is often misused.

The Secretary pointed out that the Government incur a great loss in terms of tax revenue as it has now been identified that vehicles imported under the category of special purpose vehicles are being used as ordinary purpose vehicles.

He further explained that last year alone, 947 freezer trucks were imported and that it has been reported that most of the imported freezer trucks remove the refrigerators after importation and used them as ordinary lorries. Accordingly, steps have been taken to revise the relevant taxes by these regulations.

Expressing views, Parliamentarian Nalin Fernando stated that a situation of tax evasion on technical matters pertaining to the margarine importation has also risen. The Secretary to the Ministry of Finance told the Committee that this is expected to be done in the future under a new methodology.

Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva, inquired from the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance regarding a statement made by the Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila regarding notion that the country is currently in an economic crisis. Responding to it the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance stated that despite certain economic concerns that may arise given the current situation, every effort will be made to manage such concerns properly.

Further, the proposal to increase the salaries and allowances of the members including the Chairman of the Office of the Missing Persons which was rejected at the last Committee meeting was approved at the Committee meeting held yesterday after taking all factors into consideration.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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