Party leaders agree to second day of debate
First step in changing tax ratio to focus on direct taxes
Dayasiri assures no reason for SLFP MPs to vote against bill
By Chathuri Dissanayake
The Government will present over 115 amendments to the new Inland Revenue bill set to be taken up for debate in Parliament today.
Cabinet Co-spokesperson Dayasiri Jayasekara said that the bill will be comprehensive once the amendments to the bill were adopted.
“The Sri Lanka Freedom Party had a meeting with the President this Tuesday also. There has been a lot of misinformation on the bill. I have studied the bill and have discussed this in Cabinet. All the issues will be ironed out by all the amendments,” he said.
It has been decided to allocate a second day to debate the bill at the party leaders’ meeting, Jayasekara said.
Pointing out that the new bill was a step towards changing the tax ratio of indirect tax to direct tax from 80:20 to 60:40, the Minister assured that the bill would not unnecessarily burden economically disadvantaged groups.
He mentioned Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne’s point that said that when the tax burden imposed on the poor through indirect taxes was taken off, the loss has to be recovered through direct taxes from high-income groups.
“This is the first step to bring down the tax burden, but when 20% is reduced from indirect taxes it has to be earned from elsewhere. Earlier there were powers given to the Inland Revenue officers to waive taxes from these high-income groups, but this power has now been removed,” he said.
Responding to former President and MP Mahinda Rajapakasa’s appeal to SLFP ministers to vote against the bill, Jayasekara assured that there was no issue in voting for the bill once the amendments were incorporated.
“The devil is not that black; the bill has moved far,” he quipped, adding that they were well aware of the contents of the bill.
Further, he said that the Finance Minister has met with all relevant parties, including the Department of Inland Revenue, to collect input.
“The current act has a large number of issues; it has not been changed for the last 10 years. There are a lot of overlapping points in the IR act that is in effect now. For instance, BOI tax holidays are not regulated. So this will be fixed,” Jayasekara said.
Further, he said that groups who were earlier not in the tax net will be included through the new bill. “Even MPs will be taxed hereafter,” he said.