Have no fear, Sri Lanka’s top taxman tells tax payers

April 07, 2007 (LBO) – Tax payers need not fear the Inland Revenue Department, according to Sri Lanka’s chief tax officer who faces the daunting task of raising more revenue for a country that is already projecting a budget deficit as big as 9.2 percent of the economy. The department wants to be tax payer-friendly and expects the citizenry to be tax friendly.

We want to be customer-friendly and tax payer-friendly, Commissioner General of Inland Revenue A.A. Wijepala told reporters.

Our ultimate aim is to increase government revenue, he told a news conference. Only two percent of the population pays tax now. That’s far too little.

Sri Lanka’s government employees do not pay tax, but critics have pointed out that the salaries and pensions of the public sector in 2007 would eat up 49 cents out of every tax rupee collected.

According to the last budget speech, government wages and pensions are expected to cost 264.9 billion in 2007, compared to projected tax revenues of 540 billion rupees for 2007.

Meanwhile the government has also announced a new initiative to give permits to import 20,000 by government officers for as little as 25 percent duty in a country where private citizens have to pay as much as 200 percent in duties to