SJB, MP Eran Wickramaratne warned the new President and the government not to get caught up in corruption, theft and irregularities and said that if they get caught up in them, the country will never be able to be rebuilt.
Speaking in Parliament today (21) he also emphasized the importance of being careful about officials who presented distorted figures by misleading the parliament responsible for financial responsibilities.
He reminded them that during 2020, the official figure of Budget deficit shown was 9.6 % of GDP. It was shown in a fraudulent manner by shifting Rs. 420 billion spent in 2020 to the expenses of year 2019 under the cash basis account system.
Speaking further in Parliament, he said that there should be an end to misleading Parliament and thereby the people of this country. The reason for the economic crisis is the mismanagement of governance and the financial policies.
"In 2019, taxes were reduced, and tax exemptions were given. According to the statistics of the Department of Budget, the revenue in 2021, which was 13.5%. of GDP fell to 8.7%. The number of taxpayers' files has come down from 1,705,000 to five 500,000. The PAYE taxpayers’ number was reduced to mere 32,000 from 1.1 million, he noted.
He said that due to the Inland Revenue Act, introduced by the good governance government, income tax increased by 38% in one year from Rs 310 billion to Rs 427 billion. However during the same period, there is a decrease in tobacco and alcohol taxes from Rs 484 billion to Rs 399 billion. There is a talk of a connivance between the company and the officials of Ministry of Finance and the politicians of the day to siphon off the revenue.
“I was the Minister of State for Finance at that time. But I didn’t take a cent and I urge the government to launch an investigation on the alleged involvement of officials and politicians to deprive the state of excise revenue during the period of yahapalana regime,” said Wickramaratne.
The revenue estimated from tobacco and alcohol was Rs 92 billion. But the expenses estimated to cure alcohol related diseases is USD 214 million. There is an expenditure of USD 115 million over the revenue from alcohol. As a result, about USD 115 million is at a disadvantage to the country. Therefore, the tax revenue should be properly calculated and taxed. He emphasized that since officials and politicians have not done what should be done for the country properly for many years, it is essential to punish the wrongdoers while handling the revenue collection properly.
He noted that the 2018 constitutional coup and the 2019 Easter Sunday attack reduced the volume of domestic production of the country. "Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government who ever is in power, to find out who is responsible not only for depriving the state of its taxes but for destabilizing the country economically and financially."
He said that the foreign reserves stood at USD 8.2 billion dollars in 2014, USD 7.6 billion in 2019, but by April 2020, the country has become bankrupt without any reserves. Wickramaratne added that he was publicly asking the government to tell the country who is responsible for the bankruptcy of this country.