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SLPP rebels propose amendments to 2017 Foreign Exchange Act to overcome financial crisis

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Prof. Peiris

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The economy was in such a precarious situation that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government couldn’t further delay the restoration of the relevant provisions of the 1953 Foreign Exchange Act to compel the private sector to bring back export proceeds, rebel SLPP MP Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday (30).

Referring to a spate of declarations made by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, both in and outside Parliament, Prof. Peiris emphasised the urgent need to amend the 2017 Foreign Exchange Act enacted by the Yahapalana administration to discard the tried and tested law that existed since 1953. Altogether 94 MPs voted for the new Bill whereas 18 voted against. The rest skipped the vote.

The former minister dealt with the issue at the weekly media briefing held at the SLPP rebels’ office at Nawala.

Prof. Peiris explained how tangible measures, if taken to amend the Yahapalana Foreign Exchange Act, could help the government to ease pressure on the Treasury. “People do not have to be further burdened in a bid to bridge the Budget deficit. The government shouldn’t hesitate to pressure exporters to bring back export proceeds by amending the 2017 Bill,” Prof. Peiris said, warning the government of dire consequences if it failed to act immediately.

The academic alleged that the country was paying a very heavy price for the deliberate failure on the part of the government to collect taxes and tax concessions granted to those near and dear to the powers that be.

Prof. Peiris asked whether the Treasury and the Inland Revenue Department deliberately allowed influential private sector persons to skip paying taxes. Referring to statements issued by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka and Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Prof. Peiris said that the IRD and the Excise Department pathetically failed to meet revenue targets.

The former minister said that the overall failure of revenue collection apparatus consisting of IRD, Excise and Customs to meet revenue targets over the years had contributed to the developing economic crisis and the powers that be were yet to take remedial measures.

Prof. Peiris said that massive fraud perpetrated by liquor manufacturers with the connivance of the interested parties is a case in point. The former minster discussed how the Treasury suffered heavy losses and how two liquor manufactures were allowed to continue without paying what they owed the Excise Department.



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