Sri Lanka political hypocrisy on taxation condemned

Dec 21, 2008 (LBO) – The lavish perks enjoyed by Sri Lankan politicians who get tax-free benefits, while preaching ‘patriotism’ to the common man, have been slammed by the island’s influential Sunday weeklies in one voice, as the government dragged its feet over a court order to cut petrol taxes. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ordered the government to cut taxes and reduce the price of petrol from 122 to 100 rupees a litre at a time when the international wholesale price of petrol is only about 25 rupees a litre.

Court said taxes of 180 percent were too high and profits were also too high. By Sunday only private-listed Lanka IOC had cut prices, while state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation awaited an order from the cabinet of ministers.

State Exploitation

The government had traditionally over-taxed petrol claiming it was used by the ‘rich’ while selling diesel at a lower price.

The Sunday Times newspaper in a hard-hitting editorial titled ‘Exploitation by State’ recalled that the country’s constitution held that “the exploitation of man by man or by the State” should be eliminated.

“This week, the Supreme Court gave tangible meaning to those words with an order to the State to stop exploiting the public under whatever guise or ruse,” The Sunday Times said.