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New Customs Act not to bring back Stone Age: Ravi K

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A framework of ideas on new Customs legislation will be put before trade unions and civil society organisations in the next two weeks, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake pledged to stakeholders yesterday, stating that there was no intention to return the institution to the “Stone Age”.

The special meeting was to gather stakeholder views ahead of starting preparations for the new Customs Act proposed under Budget 2016. The meeting was held at the request of Customs officers, Sri Lanka Bar Association and civil society organisations. 

Views were exchanged during the discussion held that the proposed Customs Ordinance should be prepared with full transparency. 

However, the Finance Minister dismissed allegations the proposed Customs Ordinance would protect racketeers and stated the aim of the Government was to raise revenue to bridge the deficit and improve the economy.  

“We are preparing to increase Customs revenue through this modernisation process in order to reduce the burden on taxpayers. Our objective is to march towards modernisation and not return to the Stone Age. We are going to introduce the new Customs Ordinance to prevent the repetition of corruption that has been committed during the past 11 years.” 

“We expect especially to deny opportunity for racketeers via this new ordinance. Certain factions of racketeers who have already got scared of losing opportunities are spreading rumours. On one hand, they say that they have not received the proposed Draft Bill, and on the other hand, they say the motive of the new Draft Bill is to curtail Customs powers. There can’t be truth in both these allegations,” Karunanayake said, following the meeting.

The Minister also pointed out that total revenue of Customs had increased to Rs. 800 billion from Rs. 300 billion and was a result of a clean Government. “We believe that the current revenue of Customs could be increased further after the new Customs Ordinance is introduced,” the Minister added.

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