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Sumanthiran says regular tax amnesties only encourage more people to evade 

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Provisions of the Finance Bill would be detrimental to the country, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran told Parliament yesterday, calling on the government not to pass the Bill.

 Participating in the debate on the Finance Bill, the TNA MP said, “For the first time in the history of this country, we have tax amnesty being declared through a legislation titled Finance Act. Previously, those Bills said were quite open, they were called Tax Amnesty Bill, or Inland Revenue amendments, but here some important issues as to what the objective of this Act, I say is being covered up by the title of the Act which is Finance Act”, he said.

MP Sumanthiran observed that the amnesty that was being granted was not the first time, not the second time, not the third time, from the 1960s several times amnesties had been granted.

“This matter was discussed at length in the public finance committee of Parliament, and all senior officials, I am sure many of them are here in the box today, repeatedly said that they concede that you must not do it from time to time, amnesties must never be given from time to time. It must be a one off, and that’s it. Because once the country gets used to, the fact that after a few years another opportunity will arise for amnesty that encourages people to make money and not declare it. You might bring them into the tax net. That’s a second justification that is made for tax amnesty, but the primary problem that we have in this country is that we don’t have a proper mechanism to collect our revenue, now that is conceded by everybody, so without fixing that problem, there is no point.

“I will get on to the two important issues, one is that, in section 7 of this Act, there is secrecy, now this is what we pointed out in court as well, where it said absolute secrecy and later official secrecy, fortunately in the Supreme Court the Attorney General said they will change the wording to absolute secrecy to official secrecy but nevertheless the concern remains. Once you have this provision then how that person came by that money, came by that taxable supply can never be gone into and although the speaker from the government ranks, who preceded me, said that terrorist financing, money laundering all of that is exempt from this, yes, it says it is exempt from this, but money earned through those processes can be brought in and you cannot go after that person on that account, and all you have to do is under section 5 is deposit in an account. You can take it out the next day, the justification is that the money is coming into circulation, but it doesn’t prescribe a minimum period for which the money must remain or invest in a property. You can invest in a property and sell it the next day. So this is not a desirable provision that is being made, the tax commission report of 2009 has recommended to the government not to do this, that this doesn’t bring in the desired results, the Chairman of the Commission is the present Governor of the Central bank, so I say, urge the Minister to abandon this process that is called a tax amnesty, country will lose, according to revenue officers’ trade union who have publicly said, which has not been counted that 300 billion loss will be incurred by the country as a result of this act and no government official has still counted that.”



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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