ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President will pay income tax under a new law, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said, ending another plank of the statist-neo-serfdom built after gaining self-determination from British rule.
The draft law contained a provision to exempt President Maithripala Sirisena from income tax, continuing an provision that existed in the old law, which exempted ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa from income tax.
"We have deleted it," Finance Minister Samaraweera told parliament.
"The request came from non-other than President Maithripala Sirisena himself."
The tax law passed on September 07, comes into effect from April 2018.
Samaraweera was responding to a query raised by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Dissanayake, who pointed out that legislators also now paid Pay-As-You-Earn tax on their salaries but the President was exempt.
All heads of state of free countries pay tax.
The post-1977 United National Party administration ended income tax on state workers, limiting tax only to ordinary citizens in the private sector, reducing them to tax paying serfs who were being milked for the benefit of an expanding privileged state worker cum political class.
Ex-President Mahindra Rajapaksa took the bold step of expanding taxes to all citizens though the President himself was exempt. It is not clear whether this was done by servile bureaucrats or at his request.
Until then Inland Revenue Department officials collected income tax from the people without paying taxes themselves, and legislators passed income tax law on the ordinary citizenry without shame.
Under ex-President Ranasinghe Premadasa, another UNP politician, the practice of importing super luxury BMWs proliferated as tax free permits were given to state workers, while taxing ordinary citizen’s cars and motor-cycles unmercifully.
BMWs were virtually unknown in Sri Lanka and hardly seen on the roads, before then. Provincial councillors were given Mitsubishi Pajero SUV’s who promptly sold them creating another craze for SUV ownership in the country. The green coloured model was known as the ‘Palathsabha or ‘Palabababa’ Pajero.
Even now state workers, doctors and the elected ruling get tax free cars, continuing the statist-neo-nobility.
The elected ruling class – and their close relatives who are appointed as personal staff – also get lifetime pensions while state workers have to work for decades to earn a pension.
Sri Lanka’s state enterprises also have privileges and monopolies.
Sri Lanka has had blackouts and expensive power due to a state monopoly in electricity. It is illegal for two neighbours to get together and set up a generator. (Colombo/Sept07/2017)