Ministers cannot grant tax concessions under new Inland Revenue Act: Finance Minister

Mangala-Samaraweera

Sept 04, 2017 (LBO) – Discretionary powers vested in Sri Lankan ministers to grant tax concessions has been expunged under the new Inland Revenue Act, the finance minister said.

Instead, eight new concessionary loan schemes will be launched in September for beneficiaries including entrepreneurs, small and medium scale industrialists, farmers and journalists, Minister of Finance and Media Mangala Samaraweera said.

Samaraweera alleged that MP Bandula Gunawardena has blindly followed Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapakse by claiming that the new act favours foreigners and is disadvantageous to Sri Lankan investors.

“But 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,” Samaraweera said.

Granting of long term tax concessions and tax holidays for commissions has led to distorted economic benefits in the country, with 10 percent of the population enjoying 54 percent of the economic benefits, he added.

The new act has a transparent policy of tax concessions that puts an end to the era of going behind politicians and their henchmen by bribing them for such concessions, he said. Discretionary power of the minister of finance to grant tax concessions will also be negated in the new act.

He added that there was no truth to the claim that members of families with an annual income of six lakhs, senior citizens and religious institutions will be taxed.

The government will launch eight 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, Samaraweera said.