Minister of Finance and Media Mangala Samaraweera alleged that MP Bandula Gunawardena was making distorted statements against the Inland Revenue Act by blindly following Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is conspiring as a political opportunist to disrupt the current regime.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera
Samaraweera said that Gunawardena in a recent statement had claimed that the new Inland Revenue Act was weighted in favour of foreigners and disadvantaged Sri Lankan investors. But Samaraweera asserted that he seems to have conveniently forgotten the various tax holidays and exemptions given by the ministers of the previous regimes to their cronies and nepotists making use of the provisions of the Strategic Development Act.The actions of the previous regime in granting long-term tax concessions and tax holidays in an undue and unjustifiable manner to their henchmen and to selected foreign nationals upon lucrative commissions have resulted in the distortion in economic benefitsin the country.
This situation has led to 10% of the population of the country to enjoy 54% of the economic benefits, he said.
However, the present government, has introduced a transparent policy of tax concessions through the new Inland Revenue Act, where all parties, including the so far neglected local investors, can enjoy tax concessions upon their investments, putting an end to the era of going behind politicians and their henchmen by bribing them for such concessions.
The Finance Minister emphasised that since this act clearly defines tax concessions available to any investor, any investor can recognise beforehand the tax concessions they deserve.
Mahinda Rajapaksa and his group are against streamlining the process of tax holidays due to fear that in the future no politician will have the upper hand in deciding the issuing of tax holidays to investors. Because the Ministers of the previous regime made use of the Strategic investment Act to arrogate powers unto themselves and to make money for them, he alleged.
With the introduction of this act, the discretionary power vested in the Minister of Finance to grant tax concessions will also be negated.
Samaraweera assured the caretakers of religious institutions as well as the entire public that there was no truth whatsoever in the canards propagated to mislead the public claiming the members of families with an annual income of Rs. 600,000, senior citizens and religious institutions would be taxed through this new act.
Aiming at strengthening the economic freedom of the public, the Government will be launching eight new concessionary loan schemes in September for diverse beneficiaries including entrepreneurs, small- and medium-scale industrialists, farmers and journalists through state and private sector banks introducing tax concessions and tax holidays in comparison to their investments for each and every sector of the economy, he revealed.