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Eran, top industry experts discuss Budget 2019 at BDO Sri Lanka Forum

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Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Rajendra Theagarajah (right) speaks at the forum. Others from left are BDO Partners Associate Director Tax Services Dinusha Rajapakse, BDO Partners Partner Tax Services Sarah Afker, BDO Sri Lanka Managing Partner Sujeewa Rajapakse, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne,  Brandix Lanka Group Finance Director Hasitha Premaratne and Department of Inland Revenue Senior Commissioner D.R.S. Hapuarachchi 

Leading professional service firm BDO Sri Lanka brought together a cross section of corporate leaders and industry experts to deliberate the Government’s National Budget at the BDO Budget Seminar 2019 which was attended by a large spectrum of professionals and business leaders including accountants.

The seminar held on 6 March at the auditorium of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka was attended by State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne who delivered the keynote speech. 

Eran Wickramaratne
BDO Sri Lanka Managing Partner Sujeewa Rajapakse
BDO Partners Partner Tax Services Sarah Afker

Addressing the audience, BDO Sri Lanka Managing Partner Sujeewa Rajapakse highlighted the importance of a stringent plan in implementing the Government’s Budget proposals for 2019. “The ultimate focus of the Budget should be on the reduction of the budget deficit,” he said. Rajapakse also said that the Government should aim to invest in capital rather than consumer goods thereby avoiding negative impacts on the balance of payment. 

Rajapakse, who also moderated the panel discussion of the budget seminar, said that the Budget presented by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Parliament on 5 March was a budget that was liberalisation policy focused. 

As a top professional service firm providing audit, advisory, tax and consultancy services to national and global businesses, BDO Sri Lanka has been instrumental in helping enhance the knowledge of its diverse stakeholders including corporate community with the aim of helping them gain a deeper understanding on economic matters pertinent at a national level. 

Speaking at the event, State Minister Wickramaratne said that the Government was attempting to establish fiscal discipline. Delivering the keynote speech, he highlighted that the country’s economic growth had been hindered due to various economic policy deficiencies, and therefore steps were now being taken by the current Government to rectify the deficiencies which occurred in the past.  He recalled how during the 1960s Sri Lanka’s per capita was compared with countries such as Singapore and Korea, two countries that have today forged ahead in terms of economic growth. 

Speaking further, the State Minister also urged the audience to not just expect change but be part of the change. “You cannot expect change unless you be part of the change process,” he said. 

Wickramaratne also noted that the Budget for 2019 focused on addressing vulnerable segments of society to create a social market economy. He also noted that both ‘Gamperaliya’ and ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ were two important initiatives that aimed to strengthen fiscal discipline in the country. 

The panel discussion brought together some well-known names from the industry including Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Rajendra Theagarajah, Department of Inland Revenue Senior Commissioner D.R.S. Hapuarachchi, Brandix Lanka Group Finance Director Hasitha Premaratne, BDO Partners Partner Tax Services Sarah Afker and BDO Partners Associate Director Tax Services Dinusha Rajapakse. 

Theagarajah emphasised on the importance of growth in national export, innovation and value creation, and said that focus should be on competition-based international trade rather than resorting to protection mechanisms such as artificial rupee fluctuations. 

Premaratne noted that revenue should not only be collected by the Government but also be disseminated in the form of encouraging incentives towards commercial growth. He urged the Government to look at providing more incentives to the exporters in the country. 

The need for effective implementation and ensuring accountability in Government functions was also highlighted by Theagarajah, who also underscored the need for a proper communication mechanism in place by the Government to communicate the progress of achieving goals and visions.  He also believed that the introduction of the new International Financial Reporting Standards will also help bring in new investments to the country. 

Hapuarachchi shared his views on the simplified structure of the Inland Revenue Act No. 24 of 2017 (Act) and compared it with the difficulties in the practical application of the Act by the department, to which Dinusha Rajapakse said that it was important for the department to communicate to the law makers the difficulties facing the department in interpreting the law and thereby requested assistance. 

Hapuarachchi also said that department was looking at introducing a novel version of the RAMIS system to support the new Act, and was of the opinion that if the Department of Inland Revenue focused on reducing its weaknesses, the department could further increase revenue collection. 

Afker, who delivered a presentation on the key highlights of the Budget, disclosed that the tax revenue to GDP was low and therefore tax collection should be done in a constructive manner. 

The panel discussion was well received by the audience with several questions being posed to the panellists. The event concluded with Rajapakse delivering the vote of thanks.

BDO Sri Lanka is part of the global network sharing knowledge and expertise. The firm has expanded into varied service lines providing the client a seamless array of professional services with high quality delivery. BDO stands for exceptional client service, delivered by exceptional people.

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