Rolling Dice

Sri Lanka plans to reward good taxpayers with a lottery scheme this year, as the government pulls out the stops to raise Rs. 351 bn in tax revenue this year, Treasury Secretary said. The usually starved Treasury was rather well fed by end last year, thanks to a string of new taxes, including unpopular measures like retrospective taxes, netting in a record windfall.

Tax to GDP ratio which dropped down to 13.1 percent (Rs. 281 bn) in 2003, has gone up to 14.2 percent (Rs. 231 bn) in 2004.

“There are positive signs that it will cross 15.4 percent or about Rs. 351 bn, once the new tax changes announced in the 2005 budget comes into effect from April 1,” Dr. P B Jayasundara told a news conference on Tue.

Revenue from VAT grew 20-22 percent higher over 2003, with refunds declining from Rs. 1.7 bn in Aug. to Rs. 1.4 bn by Nov 2004.

Income tax revenue had shown a three to four percentage growth over 2003 and Jayasundara plans to start a lottery to reward good taxpayers. “We need to encourage people to declare their wealth, this is not something new, its done in other countries as well.”

But the biggest surprise came from the new Economic Service Charge, which netted