Calls on all SLFP members to oppose the proposed legislation as it would undermine local economy and public interest
Shifting from politics to economics, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday opposed the Inland Revenue Bill (IRB), insisting it undermined local businesses and the public’s interest and called on fellow SLFP Parliamentarians to oppose the legislation when it is presented in Parliament.
In a detailed statement, Rajapaksa voiced several concerns, claiming the new legislation would increase tax burden on local industries, undermine entrepreneurs and encourage professionals to migrate. He also charged that places of worship would have to pay tax at 14% if they are under Government supervision and this could lead to tension within the country.
He also warned taking power away from the assessors and assistant commissioners of the Inland Revenue Department and vesting them sorely with the Commissioner General would be unfair by taxpayers who would have less capacity to seek redress from the department. He also cautioned against what he termed as the ability of the Finance Minister to have access to confidential tax files.
“The concentration of all power in the hands of the Commissioner General will give rise to a situation where politicians are able to stage manage the tax assessments that are served on individuals.
The conferring of powers directly on the officers of the Inland Revenue Department was a safeguard to prevent the concentration of power. When power is vested in the assessors and assistant commissioners, it is more difficult to misuse ministerial power to obtain confidential information on individual cases,” the statement said.
Rajapaksa also pointed out the existing 2006 Inland Revenue Act provides concessions through Chapter III on tax exemptions to various fields deemed worthy of preservation such as local handicraft industries, film and drama producers.
He argued that as this Chapter also has concessions for various economic activities such as new undertakings in pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, production for import substitution covering as much as 200 exemptions in the present law there removal would result in slower economic growth and entrepreneurship.
“The policy on which the proposed new Inland Revenue Law is based, is in keeping with the ideology of the UNP but is contrary to that of the SLFP. No member of the SLFP can pass legislation that seeks to tax provident fund contributions, to tax individuals more and companies in the same industry less, to increase the tax burden on the struggling middle class, and to tax places of worship. This new law is weighted against local production, local entrepreneurship, local creativity and local people and favours multinationals and foreigners.”
Rajapaksa claimed that since he spearheaded the SLFP general election campaign two years ago any Parliamentarians of his party who were elected must support his decision and vote against the proposed Inland Revenue Bill.
For full statement, see P4