Delivering on his promise to keep the Budget speech concise, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday unveiled a slew of proposals to liberalise restrictive laws, promote exports, expand tourism, maintain fiscal
Maldives MP Riyaz Rasheed has accused Sri Lanka of assisting alleged opposition efforts to overthrow the Maldivian government.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Riyaz said he was concerned that neighbouring countries were allowing exiled Maldivian politicians to plot attempts to oust President Abdulla Yameen, the Maldives Independent reported.
“Every Maldivian citizen has the right to believe that the efforts of opposition figures in Sri Lanka today have the possibility of disrupting our future and our independence,” the deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives said.
Riyaz later told newspaper Mihaaru that Sri Lanka’s actions suggest it wants to plunge Maldives into civil war.
“They know very well the tribulations of a civil unrest – they were in conflict for years. Why would they want that for anybody else? But sadly, I think that’s what we’re seeing now – the Sri Lankan government backing potential plans to overthrow a democratically elected government,” he was quoted as saying.
Riyaz previously accused Sri Lanka of harbouring “coup plotters” in September last year after government officials told reporters it has no concerns with the activities of former president Mohamed Nasheed.
Nasheed regularly visits Colombo to meet with other opposition figures in exile. The opposition leader was controversially jailed on terrorism charges in early 2015 but was granted medical leave in a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India, the UK and US.
Following his first trip to Sri Lanka since securing asylum in the UK, Rajitha Senaratne, Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesman, told the Colombo Gazette that Nasheed was “raising democratic issues” and could not be seen as plotting to overthrow the government.
The traditionally close ties between Maldives and Sri Lanka were strained in late 2015 following the arrest of a Sri Lankan “sniper” along with the expulsion of a Maldivian social media activist. In an unprecedented move, Sri Lanka criticised a short-lived state of emergency and warned the Maldives against creating “regional instability.”
In September this year, Nasheed’s high-profile international lawyers expressed concern about his safety after the new Maldivian ambassador to Sri Lanka threatened to detain the opposition leader in Colombo and return him to the Maldives to serve his 13-year jail sentence.
MP Riyaz, who represents the Vilufushi constituency in Thaa atoll, has a history of stirring controversy with incendiary remarks.
He led calls for the Maldives to withdraw from the Commonwealth and labelled the Queen of England “physically challenged” on national television. In May 2015, he refused to apologise for tweets about prohibiting “islanders” from travelling to protest in Malé.
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will give a 50 percent subsidy to fishermen buying deep sea fishing vessels, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Multi-day boats wll get a 50 percent subsidy for cold storage facilities.
Deep sea boats over 55 meters long will also get a 50 percent subsidy he said, presenting a budget for 2018.
Sri Lanka will also give a concessionary 14 percent income tax rate for the fisheries business, he said.
Sri Lanka will also give land in Kilonochchi to start sea cucumber farms, he said.
The United National Party ( UNP) back-benchers have decided to meet President Maithripala Sirisena to find out who had criticized him for appointing the commission to probe the CB bond issue .
MP Chaminda Wijessiri said they had decided to meet the President when they met at the parliamentary complex this afternoon.
“The UNP back-benchers met the President recently but they never discussed the bond issue or found fault with him for appointing the commission of inquiry,” he said.
The President while speaking at the commemoration ceremony of the Ven. Maduluwae Sobitha Thera, said some in the government criticized him for appointing the commission to inquire into the bond issue. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will lift foreign investor curbs on listed companies owning land, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Sri Lanka will also liberalize some restrictions on foreigners buying apartments, he said, presenting a budget for 2018.
Existing restrictions were a block to foreign direct investments, he said.
Sri Lanka will also review existing foreign direct investment processes and benchmark them on developed nations, he said.
Sri Lanka at the moment did not attract enough, FDI, he said. (Colombo/Nov09/2017)
Tax on all electric vehicles to be reduced by Rs.1 million and Rs.2.5 million import tax to be imposed on super luxury vehicles, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
He also said that a Carbon tax to be introduced for motorcycles (Rs.17 cents per day), Motor cars (Rs. 1.78 per day and buses (Rs.2.74 per day).
‘Laksanda Sewana’ housing scheme opened
An unfortunate story of an individual who was waiting in a queue to get fuel for his motorbike from the Lanka Seva filling station in Uragasmanhandiya dying of a heart attack was reported on Tuesday (7) night.
The deceased has been identified as Jayantha Premalal (53) of Uthurumagala in Uragasmanhandiya who was a watcher at the Karandeniya Uthurumagala Public Cemetery.
He was among the many motorists who were left disappointed after hearing that after having stood for a long time to get their vehicles filled the petrol had run out.
After the rest had departed he had started quarrelling with the employees of the petrol shed and all of a sudden collapsed to the floor.
After some preliminary medical treatment being administered at the Uragasmanhandiya Hospital he had been transferred to the Elpitiya Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The fuel shortage has badly affected the residents of the town of Uragasmanhandiya where the main source of transport were motorcycles and three-wheelers.
The inquest into the death was conducted by Inquirer into Sudden Deaths B. K. P. R. Perera yesterday (8). Wife of the deceased Shirani Colombage (51) and his nephew, giving evidence, said the victim was suffering from a heart disease and had been receiving medical treatment for it from 2012. They said he had not been following the advice given to him by doctors for some time.
The death was proclaimed as being due to a heart attack. (B.P. Amarasinghe)
“Sri Lanka condemns torture”: Foreign Secretary informs NY Times
- FinMin cuts indirect taxes on several essential items
- Relief package to be reviewed in 2-3 months
- FinMin claims tax cuts not related to local govt. elections
By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The Finance and Mass Media Ministry yesterday issued another pre-budget bonanza, this time to boost consumption with a cut in indirect taxes on several essential goods, which would cost the government Rs.1.5 billion in monthly expenditure, ahead of the local government elections in January.
“We thought that even if the government incurs a Rs.1.5 billion monthly loss, we should provide this and after two to three months we can review this,” Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.
The changes came into effect on a midnight gazette. Just a day earlier, Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy noted that the budget would contain a relief package, although it is unknown whether this was what he was referring to, since the relief provided yesterday came outside the 2018 budget. When inquired how the government would finance the tax cuts, Samaraweera said that “we will have to balance from other areas”.
The government’s budget deficit in 2017 is slated to increase to 5.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the state’s multilateral lending partners, compared to the government’s targeted 4.6 percent of GDP deficit.
For the first seven months, the budget deficit reached up to 3.6 percent of GDP. Yet, of the 2017 budget, just 3 percent of the major new expenditure proposals had been implemented within the first six months of this year, while 14 percent were not implemented, 32 percent were behind schedule and no information was available on 51 percent of the proposals, according to a recent study done by Verite Research.
Generating a primary surplus in the budget was highlighted to be more important than meeting the budget deficit this year and providing the relief announced yesterday will eat into the government’s ability to reach its primary surplus target.
The relief is being provided amidst high inflation in the country, stemming from high food prices due to supply-side disruptions formed through inclement weather patterns, increasing global commodity prices, higher food imports and increases in the value-added tax.
Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne noted that this tax cut was special, since in the past, pre-budget announcements by a finance minister were concerned about raising taxes.
The usual victims of pre-budget tax hikes were the tobacco and alcohol industries, towards which both Samaraweera and Wickramaratne have shown a liberal view.
In the past, taxes on these industries were raised to quickly increase revenue to show a more favourable picture of state finances, without negatively affecting the government’s image in the eyes of the public.
However, yesterday’s exercise was not the only pre-budget bonanza announced, since in August, the Finance Ministry cut taxes on several commercial vehicles and data services and provided loan subsidies for several sectors, by saying that allocations had been made for these in the 2017 budget.
Samaraweera said that today’s budget will follow the principle he daily practices: ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.
“However, at times, in special occasions, while supporting someone by providing them with a fishing rod, an immediate relief is also required,” he said.
When questioned whether this tax cut on essential goods was aimed at the crucial local government election the incumbent government has to face in January and a lack of handouts in the budget, Samaraweera said that the relief package and the elections are unrelated and to think of such a connection is cynical.
However, he said this after mentioning that “In 2015, we reduced the prices of several essential items. Even though the prices of these goods are below the prices that were prevalent in 2014, the government decided to provide relief for the recent increase in living costs.”
Wickramaratne, referring to the 2015 relief, the incentives provided in August and the increased income tax threshold in the new Inland Revenue Bill added that “all of these were done recently”.