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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Sri Lanka may discuss changes amid progressive tax protests

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka may discuss changes to a steeply progressive tax, an official had told trade unions, which was imposed on a lower threshold on top of steep bracket creep as the currency collapsed from 200 to 370 to the US dollar.

Sri Lanka imposed progressive income tax of up to 36 percent, on a threshold of 100,000 rupees a month with no deduction under an International Monetary Fund program after economic officials printed money and triggered a currency crisis.

The taxes are a temporary strategy to take the country out of an economic crisis, and the rates are lower than in some other countries, Director of Fiscal Policy at Sri Lanka’s Finance Ministry Kapila Senanayake had told a meeting of trade union officials.

However in countries with high income tax there are little or no import duties. In the US, where the International Monetary Fund is based, and income taxes are a key source of revenue, there is no value added tax and import duties are around 3 percent,

There is a possibility of making some changes after taking into consideration proposals of trade unions and civil society organization, Senanayake was quoted as saying by a statement from the President media office.

The Director General of Trade Unions at President’s office Saman Rathnapriya had told the meeting that after getting feedback a set of proposals will be submitted to the President for consideration.

Sri Lanka’s state workers including doctors and some state enterprise workers whose taxes were earlier paid by the agency they worked for are among the top protestors.

A series of protests and trade union actions are planned in Colombo by SOE workers earning high salaries and doctors.

Workers and executives of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Ceylon Electricity Board, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, air traffic controllers, some banks and the Government Medical Officers Association are expected to engage in trade union activity.

Many salaried employees are also in difficulties after getting loans at low interest rates earlier and there have been complaints that very little money is left after paying taxes and higher loan installments, while some have claimed accounts have gone into overdraft.

Some had borrowed at low rates available when money was printed by economic officials.

Sri Lanka’s interest rates are also higher after economic officials printed money and created forex shortages.

Unlike indirect taxes where small amounts of money is taken from tax payers as they spend in line with a South Asian taxation principle outlined by Kautilya, income taxes devised in the West takes money from public and transfers them to rulers before any voluntary transaction take place.

Steeply progressive taxes are also popular among the American left (so-called progressives). Income taxes also destroy savings and future investments according to critics.

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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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