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Tuesday June 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka’s CMC seeks property registration to boost revenue

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), under whose purview exist the most expensive lands in the country, has urged residents to register over 67,000 assets in a bid to increase CMC revenue through taxes and registration fees, sources said.

The move comes as the government is in the process of identifying some lands to lease to foreign investors on a long term lease with the aim to raise foreign exchange.

“This was an idea formulated by the CMC commissioner to generate income from unregistered properties,” Deputy Mayor of Colombo M T M Iqbal told EconomyNext.

According to the list published by the CMC on Monday (27), there are 67,741 unregistered properties in the Colombo municipality. The Council urged residents to register their hitherto unregistered properties at the Municipal Assessor Department by November 30 to confirm their ownership.

Iqbal explained that property ownership registration was generally only done when there is a need for the owners to obtain documents from the CMC such as building plans, to sell the property, to settle family disputes or to mortgage.

He said those who register before the deadline will not be taxed retrospectively.

“There are properties that haven’t been registered for 200 years,” Iqbal said.

Two other CMC officials said the decision was taken for the benefit of the owners and to prevent fraudulent property transfers.

The primary income of the CMC is property tax. Other incomes include parking fees, conventional halls and markets.

Analysts say the move was to raise income through increasing taxes once all properties are registered. The price of properties has risen significantly, and CMC rates are revised periodically.

The CMC generates only about 100 million rupees per year from land registration with the land registration fees varying between 3,000 to 5,000 rupees, depending on the property.

Iqbal said the CMC has seen nearly a fifth, or 3 billion rupees, fall short of its total estimated income since 2018.

“Out of the 11 billion, 70-80 percent is generated from (property) rates,” Iqbal said.

“The municipal runs on this income. Even property registration will be a one-time payment,” he said.

So far, 60 percent of the rate payers have paid, and the CMC expects at least 70 percent of the total rate payers might pay by the end of this year. (Colombo/Sep28/2021)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber links up with Gujarat Chamber

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) to increase trade cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.

The MOU was signed by CCC CEO Buwanekabahu Perera, SGCCI President Ramesh Vaghasia, in the presence of Dr Valsan Vethody, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India.

“With the signing of the MoU, … the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and SGCCI aim to facilitate trade between the two countries via initiatives such as trade fairs and delegations, business networking events, training programmes,” the Ceylon Chamber said in a statement.

“This partnership will open doors for Sri Lankan businesses to explore opportunities in Surat’s dynamic market and enable the sharing of expertise and resources between the two regions.”

Established in 1940, SGCCI engages with over 12,000 members and indirect ties with more than 2,00,000 members via 150 associations. It promotes trade, commerce, and industry in South Gujarat.

The region’s commercial and economic centre Surat has risen to prominence as the global epicenter for diamond cutting and as India’s textile hub, and is ranked the world’s 4th fastest growing city with a GDP growth rate of 11.5%

Surat’s economic landscape is vibrant and diverse. As India’s 8th largest and Gujarat’s 2nd largest city, it boasts the highest average annual household income in the country.

The nearby Hazira Industrial Area hosts major corporations like Reliance, ESSAR, SHELL, and L&T. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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Sri Lanka telecommunications bill some clauses ruled unconstitutional by SC: Speaker

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has found a number of clauses in a proposed amendment to the Telecom Telecommunications Amendment bill unconstitutional, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana said.

“Clause No 8, proposed section 9A 2 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution, however this inconsistency shall cease if word ‘may’ will be replaced with word ‘shall’ as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

“Clause No 9 is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and only can be passed with special majority required under paragraph 2 of the Article 84. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.

Clause No 12, proposed section 17 10 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and can only be passed with special parliament majority required under Article 84 paragraph 2. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

Sections of clauses 13, 18, 20, 33 and 35 were also in violation of the constitution, and could only be passed by a special majority of parliament. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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Sri Lanka to exempt one house from imputed rent wealth tax: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will exempt one house from a proposed wealth tax outlined in an International Monetary Fund program, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

About 90 percent of the people’s houses are likely to be exempt from the proposed tax, he said.

“[O]ne house will be exempt from this,” President Wickremesinghe told parliament Monday.

“It is going to have a very high threshold and I do not think the vast majority of the people in this country should even be worried about their house

“Don’t worry your house will be safe.”

The IMF program document however did not mention an exemption on one house, but did mention an exemption threshold.

Taxing houses and thrift in general could have detrimental effects on people’s well-being, housing stock and their willingness to remain in the country without migrating, critics say.

Related Sri Lanka to tax imaginary rents on houses under IMF deal

The mechanism of imputed rents was used because rates on houses were assigned to provincial councils and courts could strike it down.

Opposition legislator Harsha de Silva said the Samagi Jana Balwegaya welcomed President Wickremesinghe’s statement. (Colombo/June18/2024)

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