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SL’s debt crisis has aggravated due to fear of taxing the super-rich says LSSP leader



The fear of taxing the super rich has worsened Sri Lanka’s debt crisis, says SLPP MP Prof. Tissa Vitarana, leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP).

Speaking in Parliament during the recent Vote on Account debate, Prof. Vitarana said he was glad that speakers from both sides of the House appeared, at least now, to accept that the country was faced with a severe economic crisis. This did not seem to be the case when promises were being made during the recent General Election campaign. But now when the money has to be found to fulfill the promises made, both sides of the House came out with the same solution, more and more loans, i.e. both local and foreign borrowing, the MP said.

“This is inadvisable as it would deepen the debt crisis facing the country and the people”, he cautioned.

Now, and in the November Budget, Prof. Vitarana called for a different approach to obtain the money the country requires. Wasteful expenditure, both local and foreign, should be minimized. In order to cut Sri Lanka’s foreign debt, instead of increasing it, strict import restriction together with increased export earnings is essential to achieve a positive trade balance. But the latter would take time as it requires proper planning, full mobilization of all the required resources and firm committed action based on science and technology by the government.

As the former Minister of Science and Technology, having established 263 Vidatha resource centres at divisional level across the country and helped to produce over 12,300 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (17 exporters and 64 suppliers to the food chains and 57 to hotels – refer IPS report), Prof. Vitarana said that he would have liked to make a contribution when the country is facing a difficult time. However, it would appear that there are more capable people available.

“I wish them all success in the national interest. In the interim, less reliable short-term funding solutions, like tourism and repatriated incomes are being promoted, but alas they too have fallen and will take time to revive in the context of the deepening global crisis of capitalism aggravated by Covid-19”, he noted.

Internally, as the Treasury is averse to deficit financing, taking money from the Central Bank, for fear of inflation etc., other ways have to be found to increase government revenue. Rather than taking more loans and getting deeper into debt, Prof. Vitarana suggested that the government should raise the required money by increasing the tax on the super-rich. This was the way out of the debt crisis for the country and the government and the next logical step now that the government has returned to the correct policy of developing the national economy by reducing, and where possible banning, the import of foreign goods.

This was done when Dr. N. M. Perera was the Finance Minister in the SLFP/LSSP/CP Coalition Government led by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike after it came to power in 1970, the MP recalled.

In Sri Lanka, the upper limit of direct taxation on individuals, mainly the super-rich is one of the lowest in the world, a mere 18%, while the average in Europe is around 45%. In some Scandinavian countries that provide their citizens with a welfare state, the money required is obtained through a higher direct tax with an upper limit of about 60%, which targets the super-rich, he said.

When faced with the severe triple crisis (debt, oil and food) Dr. N. M. Perera as the then Finance Minister in 1970 enabled the country, when faced with a severe global food scarcity, to avoid the deaths of thousands due to starvation, unlike in most other Third World countries, by raising the upper limit of direct taxation to 75%. The funds generated enabled him to provide a measure of rice free and all essentials at low prices through the excellent cooperative outlets, Prof. Vitarana further said.

He was able to not only to balance the Budget but also to produce a budget surplus. This enabled him to cut foreign loans and get the country out of the debt trap. Not only was the foreign debt reduced to the lowest level in the country’s history, he also achieved the economic stability that was required for development, Prof. Vitarana further recalled.

The IMF promotes indirect taxation, like VAT, as the main source of government revenue and in the recent past, 87% of tax revenue was obtained this way. Only 13% was obtained through indirect taxation, and as the upper limit was lowered to 18%, the class of the super-rich (a mere 1% who some estimate as having 30% of the total personal wealth in the country) were practically unaffected and did not contribute their share to the burden, he said.

At this time of crisis, Prof. Vitarana proposed that the government should increase the upper limit of direct taxation to 70% so that while the required funds are obtained, the import of luxuries and non-essentials would drop. It would also narrow the huge gap between the super-rich and the poor, which not only has a bad psychological demonstration affect, but also leads to more crime and social instability. Globally economists have warned of this danger, he added.



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Renew firearm license for 2024 before 31st December 2023 – Ministry of Defence




The Ministry of Defence has announced that the renewal of firearm license of individuals/ institutions for the year 2024 will be carried out from 01 October 2023 to 31 December 2023 and the required details can be downloaded from the Defence Ministry’s website

Firearm license renewal for 2024 will not be carried out after 31 December 2023. It is also informed that possession of a firearm without a valid license is a punishable offense under provisions of Section 22 of the Firearms Ordinance.

Registration renewal of Private Security Firms for the year 2024/2025 will be carried out from 01.10.2023 to 31.12.2023. Any renewals made after the deadline will be subjected to a fine or legal action.

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“Unite to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048” – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his Milad-Un-Nabi message urged all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048.

“Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all” he said.

The full text of the President’s message :

“My greetings to the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world, observing Milad Un Nabi, being the auspicious occasion commemorating the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.

He is celebrated as the final messenger of Allah, known for profound teachings of love and peace that encompass humanity. His journey to spread the message of Islam in the challenging societal context of that time, was marked by significant trials. Even in the face of adversity, the Holy Prophet’s unwavering patience and equanimous strength served as powerful attributes. He was victorious in attaining his aspirations, through boundless sacrifices for faith and humanity.

As we celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday today, it is timely to resolve to uphold the values that were the hallmark of his life, which include mutual understanding, brotherhood, assistance to one another and fairness. Our commitment to fostering social harmony is the most meritorious tribute which could be paid to his legacy.

I urge all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path, to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048. Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all.

I wish all those of the Islamic faith, a joyous Eid Milad-Un-Nabi, filled with love, peace and prosperity!”

Ranil Wickremesinghe
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

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National Security Oversight Comm. Chief denied US visa



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on National Security, Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera has told Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that the US should not deny a visa to an MP nominated by the Sri Lankan Parliament to join an official delegation unless he/she posed a threat to US interests.

In a letter dated 25 Sept., 2023, the former Public Security Minister has informed Speaker Abeywardena the issuance of visas was the prerogative of the US mission, but the issue of the US Embassy insisting that he be replaced with a member of a minority community must be taken up.

Of the Chairpersons of 17 Oversight Committees chosen for a 10-day study tour of the US organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and USAID, later next month, only Weerasekera has been denied a visa.

Declaring that he had B1 (business) and B2 US visa (tourism) or combination of the two, Rear Adm. Weerasekera said that he had no special interest or reason to join the delegation but it was wrong for the US Embassy to deny him a visa.

The MP has said that he will seek an explanation from Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena in this regard. “In my capacity as Chairman of the Oversight Committee on National Security, I intend to call a meeting with Secretary Defence and Armed Forces chiefs to discuss this matter,” MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera retired in late 2006 after having served the Navy with an unblemished record for well over three decades.

Responding to another query, the former Minister said that the Parliament had been asked by the US Embassy to name another member of his committee, representing a minority community for the programme.

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