ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tax collection for the year 2018 is showing a deficit of LKR1.3 trillion, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) was told yesterday, a statement released by the Parliamentary Secretariat said.
The sum was disclosed by COPA Chair Prof Tissa Vitharana after Inland Revenue Department officials said these monies are to be paid by various government departments but some of these institutions are “not in a financial position to pay the relevant revenue.”
COPA then ordered the IRD to prepare a full report on these institutions.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General’s Department pointed out that another reason for this substantial deficit was because 8060 cheques worth LKR3bn sent in by taxpayers had bounced.
The IRD officials pointed out at the committee that a blacklist inclusive of 65 taxpayers has already been prepared.
The IRD was summoned before the Committee on Public Accounts yesterday and presence was marked by a number of Ministers, Members of Parliament, Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance S. R Attygalle, the Commissioner-General of Inland Revenue C. P. J. Siriwardena and many high-ranking officials of the Inland Revenue Department and the Auditor General’s Department.
Officials stated that since the beginning of 2017, the Inland Revenue Department has utilized a computerized system called RAMIS to streamline tax collection process which has been more efficient than conducting the process manually.
However, MPs pointed out that it is problematic that more than LKR3bn needs to be paid to a Singaporean company every time a tax amendment is made to the said system which was established at a cost of over Rs. 4 billion.
Minister Duminda Dissanayake suggested that the agreement with the company be renegotiated so that the government needs to make a one-time payment.
Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance S. R Attygalle pointed out that a five-year continuous, consistent tax policy was proposed by this budget for the practical convenience of taxpayers as well as tax collectors.
According to the officials, there are 2,192 large-scale taxpayers in Sri Lanka, of which 532 contribute towards the payment of more than 70pct of revenue.
Minister of State Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Duminda Dissanayake as well as Members of Parliament Tissa Attanayake, Gunapala Ratnasekera, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Prof Ranjith Bandara, Ajith Rajapakse, S. Shritharan and Dr Harini Amarasuriya were present at the meeting. (Colombo December 4, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana