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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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Lankan hospitality professional grabs top US luxury hotel job



Sanjiv Hulugalle

Sanjiv Hulugalle has been appointed Group President – Hospitality & Real Estate in May 2023 overseeing all aspects of Kohler luxury hospitality businesses and championship golf courses, the company announced.

“He provides full-scope strategic and operational leadership strength, vast global experience, and a service mindset. He possesses an outstanding track record of hiring, training, engaging, and retaining high-performing teams focused on delivering exceptional one-of-a-kind luxury resort experiences, a news release on the appointment said”.

Prior to joining Kohler, Hulugalle served as Regional Vice President and General Manager at Mauna Lani Resort, Hawaii, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection. In that role, he managed Mauna Lani along with regional responsibility for five additional properties around the world, delivering significant growth, large-scale renovations, and increased revenue.

Before that, he was the Regional Vice President and General Manager at Jumeirah Al Naseem and Madinat located in Dubai, and spent 22 years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in general management leadership roles.

His vast work experience in the luxury resort business has led him to work in 12 countries on four continents, including Syria, Dubai, Malaysia, and China.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Australian College of Physical Education in Sydney and began his upwardly mobile career as a physical training instructor in the hotel industry serving a short internship at Ahungalle Hotel during his university period.Sanjiv is the son of Mr. Arjuna and Mrs. Sally Hulugalle of Colombo.

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Guardian report harshly critical of working conditions on tea estates



More than 300,000 people work in Sri Lanka’s tea plantations

Tetley says it has suspended work on some central estates

The respected British newspaper, Guardian last week ran a story strongly critical of Sri Lanka’s once British-owned tea industry focusing on its poorly paid labour force and the harsh living conditions they are forced to tolerate.The report was headlined: “We give our blood so they live comfortably’: Sri Lanka’s tea pickers say they go hungry and live in squalor.” It reported that Some of the world’s leading tea manufacturers, including Tetley and Lipton, are examining working conditions on the plantations of its Sri Lankan suppliers, following a Guardian investigation.

The report quoted Tetley saying it had suspended work with some central Sri Lankan estates while it conducted its own inquiries. Ekaterra, which owns Lipton and PG Tips, said it was in contact with the Rainforest Alliance over the findings. Yorkshire Tea, another company that sources tea from the estates the Guardian visited, said it was speaking to the plantations concerned.

Two global trade-certification schemes, Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance, are also conducting inquiries after it was revealed that some workers on 10 certified estates could not afford to eat and were living in squalid conditions, Guardian said.

Some of the pickers said they had so little money that they were having to skip meals and felt forced to send their children to work, the Guardian report said.

More than 300,000 people work in Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, which are mainly in the mountainous Central Highlands. In 2022, the industry generated £1.079bn in exports.

Some of the pickers said they had so little money that they were having to skip meals and felt forced to send their children to work, the report said.It was replete with quotations from workers complaining of harsh working conditions and poor remuneration. A sample:

Workers claimed some estate supervisors have tried to underpay workers. Lakshman Devanayagie, 33, said: “Even if we pick good tea leaves, they will say it’s not good enough, and they will tip it out, or that they are going to cut our pay.

“If we give them five kilos of tea leaves, they will only pay us for two or three. When we ask them, they say, ‘we’re doing as we’re told, so why don’t you do as you’re told?’,” she said, adding that she felt suicidal at times.

Rangasamy Puwaneshkanthy lives with her husband and three children in the hills above one tea estate. She said has had to take out loans to pay for food and regularly missed meals, adding that she often chose to forgo buying sanitary towels so she could buy food for her children.

“If there’s no food at home, then I don’t take any to work. I tell them [supervisors] I’m going home for a bit and then come back, because I can’t watch other people eating,” Puwaneshkanthy said.

She said pressure to pick quickly meant that she did not have time to watch out for leeches, which are common in the damp climate. Last year, her leg became infected from one and she had to walk for an hour to see a doctor because she could not afford a rickshaw ride.

“If we stop to pick the leech off, then we’ll be one kilo down – that’s how we’re thinking when we work,” said Puwaneshkanthy.

“We don’t know what to do. We’re working on the estate, but we have no salary. What are we meant to do?”

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Annual Poson Aloka Pooja at Sithulpauwwa



The Annual Poson illuminations of the historic Sithulpauwwa Raja Maha Viharaya, situated inside the Yala National Park, will be held on 02, 03 and 04 June 2023.These events are held under the guidance and the patronage of Chief Priest Venerable Agga Maha Pandita Mataramba Hemarathana Thera.

On the Poson Full Moon Day there will be an all-night pirith chanting to invoke the blessings of the Triple Gem on the country.

Upali Group of Companies will sponsor the illumination of Sithulpauwwa Temple for the 36th year. Vice President of the Sithulpauwwa Dayaka Sabha Dhammika Attygalle, along with Managing Director/CEO of Upali Group Nimal Welgama, will switch on the lights on the Poson Poya day.

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