Wednesday, 01 November 2023 09:54

President gets tough with IRD, Excise, Customs over revenue failure Featured

- Despite repeated orders, IRD fails to increase tax files

- IRD, Customs, Excise questioned on delay of digitalising files

- So far only 500,000 continue to be under tax net

- Govt. says compelled to increase VAT as State Depts fail to collect revenue

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has raised stern concerns with the Chiefs of the Inland Revenue Department, Excise and Customs Departments over their failure to gather the required revenue for the country and has queried as to why only an estimated 500,000 tax files continue to be on the tax base when the actual number of files should be far higher.

In his latest attempt to streamline the functions at state institutions, President Wickremesinghe had sternly questioned the IRD Chief as to why repeated requests to increase the country's tax base had still not been done. According to estimated figures, only 500,000 tax files have been opened at the IRD while actual figures should be well in the millions.

Wickremesinghe had also informed the higher-ups in the government, that it is because of the failure of the bureaucrats at these state institutions that the government was failing to reach its revenue targets, compelling the Finance Ministry to then pass the burden on to the citizens by increasing indirect taxes such as VAT.

It is also only recently that the IRD adapted the digitization programme after several requests went unheard for years. By digitalizing the entire system, experts say corruption can be reduced significantly in state institutions.

Sources said that the Customs and Excise departments are however yet to go digital despite several requests from the higher-ups.

The Daily Mirror learns that in the cabinet meeting held earlier this week, ministers had raised concerns about increasing the VAT by 18 percent but were compelled to agree due to the government failing to meet its revenue targets.

Wickremesinghe had informed his cabinet that while his intention was to reduce the indirect taxes for the public, he could not do so presently as state institutions failed to perform their duties.

(Jamila Husain)

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