PMD: State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya stated that a series of unique recommendations including the establishment of a special court will soon be submitted for the President’s approval to resolve the legal problems emerging in tax collection.
The State Minister stated that the plan incorporates several particular topics to address practical challenges linked to tax collection.
According to the Minister, raising state income is a key economic concern in the country, thus it is critical to collect taxes legally in order to enhance state income. As a result, the Minister instructed the liquor manufacturing companies that have already defaulted to pay the related amount within 14 days. He also mentioned that a special order has been issued.
The Minister stated that the country still has a voluntary tax system, which should be rectified immediately.
State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya expressed these views while attending the press conference organized by the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (28) under the theme ‘One path to a stable country’.
The State Minister of Finance further commented;
By 2022, the country would have the lowest tax revenue in relation to GDP. This amounts to 7.3%. However, Government spending ranged between 19 and 20%. The Government at the time attempted to compensate for this difference. There, the country was in a financial crisis. It was even necessary to print money. The decline in Government revenue became a vital component in the recent economic crisis.
Increasing Government revenue is a crucial concern in the country’s economy. Government revenue can be increased only by increasing taxes. Tax collection, whether direct or indirect, is a difficult undertaking. However, the current tax system has been brought to a suitable level. I would like to congratulate everyone who has paid their taxes despite the country’s economic problems. To some extent, the people have recognized the importance of the Government.
State revenue increased from 7.3% of GDP in 2022 to 15.8% in the first quarter of 2023. It is a crucial junction. In general, a Government attempts to raise direct taxes. The Government’s goal is to keep the existing tax rate constant. The administration does not intend to levy new taxes on citizens.
When possible, the Government attempts to offer help to the people. The Government is well aware of the recent increase in bank interest rates. The Government reduced the bank interest rate by 2.5% last week. Similarly, we intend to make certain tax-collection concessions to the people in the future.
Only 300,000 persons are now paying taxes. The amount of income files should be 1 million in order to enhance state tax collection. If this occurs, it will be possible to cut the amount of taxes levied on specific individuals in the country.
Tax filings foster better Government ties. The Government has invited 14 eminent groups of experts in the society to open the tax files. Taxpayers are considered as strong citizens of the country.
Also, the Government spends people’s tax money with proper management. Six circulars have been issued concerning the use of tax money. No Government has ever managed tax money as well as the current administration. So there should be no issues. The Government has taken steps to secure the taxpayers’ money.
For example, under the ‘Aswesuma’ welfare benefit payment program, the Government makes every effort to offer welfare benefits solely to those who deserve. True information should also be provided while supplying information under ‘Aswesuma’. Furthermore, the person obtaining the information is obligated to receive accurate information. These are disliked by many people. In the midst of multiple accusations and challenges, the Government is attempting to provide eligible individuals with ‘Aswesuma’ welfare benefits. The system of granting social benefits depending on political ties should be abolished immediately.
So far, plans have been put in place to collect taxes from persons who have evaded from paying their taxes. Our country has a tax structure that is entirely voluntary. For example, we might query about someone’s earnings. That is where the tax collection process begins. Some resort to court in order to collect taxes. There will thereafter be years of court proceedings. Many cases remain unresolved. There are numerous practical issues with the tax collection process. A proposal has been sent to President Ranil Wickremesinghe in order to find solutions to the practical challenges of tax collection. It has been proposed to establish a special tax court.
Meanwhile, excise duty has been raised by 20%. In addition, the liquor manufacturing companies were given a special order to pay the unpaid taxes within 14 days.
We currently owe 83 billion dollars as a country. Of that, 41 billion dollars have been paid as foreign loans and 42 billion dollars as local loans. Everyone must make some sacrifices in order to make the country stable. In the future, we can talk about technical aspects of domestic debt restructuring. But now is the time to try to rebuild the fallen country.
How many scapegoats wandered in this country when the assistance from the International Monetary Fund was sought? This is such a country. Banks are closed for a few days to prepare this structure with proper management. Account holders, bank stability, and pension funds will be unaffected. Now some people are trying to destabilize the country through ‘Aswesuma’. We must contend with a classic opposition. Sri Lanka is an ordinary country. Nothing new will be accomplished if conspiracies are made again. This will cause the country to regress even worse. The Government follows a well-planned and a visionary strategy.