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Govt. urged to crack down on tax evaders instead of taxpayers, says MP Harsha de Silva

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Harsha Silva

SJB MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance, Harsha de Silva, on Thursday (02), urged the government to take action against tax evaders instead of harassing law-abiding taxpayers.

According to MP Harsha de Silva, the government expected to collect Rs. 718 billion as corporate and personal income taxes for 2023, but as of October 16, 2023, the actual collection had reached only Rs. 495 billion. However, in a surprising contrast, PAYE taxes, which were projected to yield 100 billion rupees, had already exceeded expectations, bringing in 119 billion rupees. Therefore, he proposed to amend the current PAYE tax structure, as the government would go on to collect 125 billion rupees at the current compliance level and 175 billion rupees at a 100% compliance rate.

Furthermore, withholding tax collections exceeded expectations, he said. The government had anticipated 90 billion rupees but collected almost 122 billion rupees, showcasing that forcibly enforced taxes are being collected, while voluntary compliance remains substantially low.

MP Harsha also highlighted significant shortfalls in other tax categories. The Betting and Gaming levy, expected to generate 10 billion rupees, only managed 5.6 billion rupees. Similarly, Value Added Taxes (VAT) were projected to contribute 553 billion rupees, but collections stand at 350 billion rupees, with concerns raised about the upcoming VAT changes.

“This discrepancy in tax collection calls into question the government’s approach to fiscal-based revenue consolidation. It prompts concerns about the fairness of increasing taxes on honest taxpayers while allowing a significant portion of potential revenue to go uncollected from tax evaders. Moreover, the inconsistency in tax policies, with the same individuals who reduced taxes to 8% in 2019 now responsible for an 18% increase, further deepens public skepticism about the government’s policy direction,” he said.

MP Harsha de Silva also cited an example from the Excise Department, where the government had aimed to collect 217 billion rupees, inclusive of liquor tax, tobacco tax, sticker tax etc. However, the actual collection stands at just 124 billion rupees, creating a substantial 92 billion rupees shortfall.

“My comments serve as a wake-up call for the government to address the issue of tax evasion and to rethink its approach to tax collection. Prioritizing the collection of taxes from tax evaders rather than increasing the burden on law-abiding citizens is crucial for a fair and equitable tax system. The public is now looking to the government to take action to rectify the situation and ensure a more balanced and just tax system for all,” he said.



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“Operation ‘Yukthiya’ will persist despite pressure” – Minister of Public Security

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Minister of Public Security, Mr. Tiran Alles, attending a news conference held at the Presidential Media Centre today (21) under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’.emphasized his unwavering commitment to continue operations aimed at suppressing drugs, tackling the underworld and preventing violence against women and children, regardless of any pressure encountered.

Furthermore, Minister Alles disclosed that operation ‘Yukthiya’, which commenced on December 17, has resulted in the seizure of narcotics valued at Rs. 7.8 billion and assets including vehicles and buildings confiscated by law enforcement amount to Rs. 725 million. . A total of 58,562 raids have been conducted, leading to the arrest of 58,234 individuals involved in illicit activities.

 

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SLNS Samudura leaves for Maldives to take part in Exercise Dosti – XVI

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Sri Lanka Naval Ship (SLNS) Samudura left for the Maldives from the port of Colombo on Tuesday (20)  to take part in Exercise Dosti – XVI. The trilateral exercise ‘Dosti’ is scheduled to be held in Male from 22nd to 25th February.

The trilateral exercise ‘Dosti’ aims to enhance cooperation, strengthen friendship, improve mutual operational capability, and develop interoperability among the Coast Guard personnel of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

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“Sri Lankan unity paves the way for rapid national development” – President

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Sri Lanka’s Chief Scout, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his address at the 10th National Scout Jamboree held at the Koneswara Hindu Vidyalaya Stadium in Trincomalee this morning (21), underscored the potential of Sri Lankans to steer the nation towards rapid development and fortify its security for future generations through unified efforts.

The President highlighted that participation in the National Scout Jamboree transcends divisions of caste and religion. He articulated that unity among Sri Lankans, spanning from the North to the South and from Colombo to Trincomalee, is pivotal in accomplishing shared objectives.

President Wickremesinghe pledged his support for the expansion of the Scout Association, noting its role in nurturing responsible citizens essential for the country. Furthermore, he announced the plans to facilitate collaboration between the Scout Association and the Ministry of Technology, underscoring the importance of leveraging interactions across sectors for national development.

(PMD)

 

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