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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka domestic tax collections grow 20.6-pct in 2019

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has collected 785.38 billion rupees in taxes in 2019, up 20.6 percent from 2018, only slightly below target officials said, amid a weak economy.

“Last year, our target was 799 billion rupees, and we collected 785 billion rupees, which is a shortfall of 14 billion rupees,” Inland Revenue Commissioner General Nadun Guruge told reporters in Colombo on Friday.

In December, income taxes and indirect taxes were cut, after Gotabhaya Rajapaksa became president, raising questions about value added tax collections in particular for 2020.

No target has been given for the Inland Revenue for 2020.

The 2019 target was almost the same as given for 2018. Sri Lanka has not passed a budget for 2020 and is operating on a vote on account which is effective until end-April.

Some taxes have been cut ahead of parliamentary passages of law.

In 2018, IRD had collected 651.74 billion rupees, against a target of 792.07 billion rupees, while in 2017, against a target of 651.86 billion rupees, the department had collected 602.48 billion rupees.

IRD’s major revenue collections are from income tax and a part of the Value Added Tax (the tax on imports is collected from the Customs Department), along with other smaller levies.

IRD contributes around 40 percent to Sri Lankas total tax revenue, with other major sources being the Excise Department and the Customs.

Guruge told reporters the automation of tax payments is helping to increase collections.

Deputy Commissioner General R. M. Jayasinghe said closing holes in the tax net, especially with regards to tuition teachers and doctors who have their own businesses, is also increasing taxes.

With the new tax cuts, analysts and ratings agencies have warned that Sri Lanka’s budget will face risk of deterioration.

In 2019 Sri Lanka is estimated to have reached a deficit of 7 percent, but it has not put major pressure on the rupee as private credit was weak. (Colombo/Jan17/2020)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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