This government taxes people, holds ladders to thieves & liquefies state institutions

The present ‘yahapalana’ government is one that taxes people, hold ladders to thieves and liquefy state institutions, it makes various statements to deceive people and throw sand at people’s eyes said the General Secretary of the JVP Comrade Tilvin Silva.

He made these observations at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP yesterday (27th). The Member of the Central Committee of the JVP Western Provincial Councilor Attorney at Law Comrade Sunil Watagala was also present.
Comrade Tilvin Silva said, “The present government is lying to the people and is throwing sand at people’s eyes. The government, making statements to deceive people, is burdening the people with heavy taxes. Meanwhile, the government, to manipulate the Department of Inland Revenue, Customs etc that bring revenue to the country, is weakening Acts and regulations that are relevant to such institutions.
The government unjustly increased VAT to 15%. Ours is a country where very poor people are the majority. During the election period the government said the country’s economy would be developed so that people’s pockets would be filled. However, after coming to power the government is emptying people’s pockets to fill the pockets of ministers and government’s lackeys. The businessmen in the country took to the streets protesting against government’s VAT. We, of the JVP too took to the streets. More than half the population in our country is poor. They make their ends meet with relief such as ‘Samurdhi’. The daily income of 43% of the population is less than US$02. Taxing such people is very unfair.
Court to judge that he VAT system presented by the government was erroneous. Still for all the government is preparing to bring in a VAT amendment Act to Parliament again. People are unable to afford such taxes. However, the government comes out with false statements to deceive the people. Despite stating the VAT introduced for the health service was withdrawn due to protests by the people, what replaces it is an entire different thing. As the state health sector is weak patients go to the private sector to get their various tests done. Despite VAT is not levied for such out patient services, VAT is levied from patients who get services as inpatients in private hospitals. Hence, what the government says is a blatant lie. VAT is levied for the health sector as well.
At present the number of patients who seek services from private hospitals is going up. This is due to the failure of the state sector and an increase in the number of older generation. In 1990 the older population was 8.9% of the total population in the country. In 2000 it was 9.6%, in 2010 it was 12.2% and in 2014 it had risen to 13.4%. It is estimated that in 2026 the elderly population would increase to 18.9% of the total population. Hence, the need of the health services would be increasingly felt. However, there are no facilities in government hospitals nor is there any preparation to meet the demand. The number of heart, kidney, neuro patients is increasing. They have to undergo surgery. In government hospitals patients have to wait for months in waiting lists to get heart surgeries performed. However, brain surgeries cannot wait for months. As such, people, even with financial difficulties, go to private hospitals. Services of private hospitals are sought not only by super class capitalists. People from the middle class as well as downtrodden masses find money somehow or other to get services from private hospitals. We often see people collecting donations on the roads to get surgeries done for their loved ones. This government levies a 15% VAT even from those who go round eh country collecting donations to get surgeries done for their kith and kin.
Normally, a heart surgery costs Rs.6,98,000. Then Rs.1,04,000 has to be paid to the government as taxes. The government grabs Rs.100,000 from those who collect money for the surgeries. A brain surgery would cost about Rs. 1 million. Then the government would collect Rs.150,000 as taxes. A patient who gets a CT scan done in a private hospital as there are facilities in government hospitals will have to pay Rs.2500 as taxes. This is very unjustifiable. A government that collects hundreds of thousands of rupees from patients who have to pawn their assets to come out of dangers to their lives cannot be humane. The government that levies 17.5% income tax from private hospitals charges another tax from patients who get treatment from such hospitals. In many other countries the health services are tax free. However, the government in our country levies tax for the health services to add to its coffers. A portion of the money given from President’s fund for surgeries is taken back as taxes.
The taxation by the government is not fair. As such, the JVP would mediate totally to defeat the VAT levy. The government, instead of receiving an income from developing the economy to increase production, is levying taxes from patients who suffer from their ailments. This move of the government must be defeated.
The government, while picking pockets of the people, is carrying out unnecessary interference on the Inland Revenue Department and Sri Lanka Customs in order to control them and take them under the Minister. Instead of properly managing the institutions that collect tax incomes, they are being politicized to mess them up. This government moves according to the wishes of imperialist institutions. Last time when obtaining loans the IMF was promised that the financial sector would be opened, state institutions would be privatized and relief for the masses would be slashed. VAT is introduced at the behest of the IMF. The institutions such as Inland Revenue and Customs are weakened to satisfy imperialist bodies.
A cabinet decision has been taken to weaken the Inland Revenue Department. Accordingly, the collection of revenue would be given to a private company. Privatization is carried out on the pretext of making them efficient. When a private company is given to collect revenue they will have to be given a commission. The government that states thee is no money gives commissions to private companies. While giving a commission to companies the stalwarts of the government too get a share of the commissions. Throughout the previous regime their associates were not taxed due to political interferences. Associates wee given tax relief. It is due to the state interferences in tax collection that income had gone down. When tax collection is given to a foreign company it would come to know about all tax payers in our country. A foreign company getting to know economic information in our country is a threat to security.
The existing Inland Revenue Act is to be refuted and two Acts to be introduced. The two acts to be introduced are the Tax Administration Act 2016 and Inland Revenue Act 2016. According to the existing Act the Commissioner is appointed by the cabinet. All other officials are appointed by the Public Service Commission. There are less political interferences. From Tax Administration Act 2016 the Minister of Finance gets the authority to appoint all officials. He could appoint his associates. The Minister of Finance in our country is a businessman. Giving one person the authority is not good governance. The slogan is ‘good governance’. However, practically the government acts against ‘good governance’. There is an attempt to get outsiders involved in Inland Revenue Department. There is also an attempt to recruit 1500 persons violating the regulations. The UNP is paving a way to provide jobs for its sympathizers. As SLFP in the ‘unity’ government holds power in the Port, CPC and SLTB, the UNP has a crisis in giving jobs to its sympathizers.
On the other hand a new act has been drafted to weaken Customs that brings revenue to the country. There is an attempt to reduce the powers Customs officers have. Fines for offenders are to be relaxed. Customs brings 57% of the country’s income. Customs brought Rs.503 billion in 2014 and Rs.719 billion in 2015. Customs’ duty is not only to collect taxes. It prevents illegal goods from coming in to the country and artefacts and things connected with bio diversity taken away from the country. Hence, the Customs Act should be a strong one. We have a strong Customs Act adopted in 1969. They are are attempting to amend this Act. The highest position in Customs is the Director General. He has five additional officers. According to the new Act six additional director generals are to be appointed and three of them are appointed by the cabinet. This would increase political interventions. The new Act gives eh Minister of Finance to release goods without any checking from Customs. Punishments for thieves have been relaxed. According to the existing act if false information is given to the Customs regarding good imported a fine of three times the value of the goods could be imposed when such an attempt is revealed. However, according to the new Act only 50% of the value of goods would be charged. This government supports and helps thieves. If the culprit admits the crime during Customs inspection the goods could be released without a fine but paying only the tax.
According to the law in our country if anyone is caught with 2 grams of heroin he or she could be sentenced to death. However, according to the proposed Act the maximum punishment for anyone caught with drugs, heroin, banned medicines, military weapons, bombs, missiles, swords, daggers is six months imprisonment. The maximum fine is Rs. 5 million. The government creates loopholes for thieves to wriggle out through the new Act.
The government, despite talking about good governance, keeps ladders for thieves. The government works according to western powers and creates loopholes for thieves to wriggle out. These moves of the government must be defeated. The JVP totally supports the struggle action begun by employees of Inland Revenue Department and Customs. Also, we will rally masses to carry out a massive agitation against the vicious moves of the government.”
Talking about the statement by the Chief Miniser for Northern Provincial Council C.V. Vigneswaran Comrade Tilvin Silva said it gives a stimulant to the communalists in the South and such revolting statements made at a time when All Sinhalese, Tamil and other people strive to achieve national unity should be condemned and all should repulse such statements. He said the views expressed by Vigneswaran are not that of the people in the North and the East.

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Condemn Vigneswaran’s revolting statement

The statement made by the Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council C.V. Vigneswaran is one that gives a stimulant to the communalists in the South and such revolting statements made at a time when All Sinhalese, Tamil and other people strive to achieve national unity should be condemned and all should repulse such statements says the General Secretary of the JVP Comrade Tilvin Silva.

Speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta today (27th) Comrade Tilvin Silva said the views expressed by Vigneswaran are not that of the people in the North and the East.

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Ranil and Maithri are like property auctioneers

Ranil and Maithri are like property auctioneers, they are selling country’s resources and the wrong economic policy that is being followed should be changed says the Leader of the JVP Comrade Anura Dissanayaka.
Speaking at a seminar held in Colombo yesterday (20th) under the theme ‘Trading, sacrifice and ETCA’ the JVP Leader said, “We have commenced a dialogue throughout the country regarding selling of resources, sacrifice and ETCA. The destruction of the economy in our country is evidently displayed in the selling of resources, their sacrifice and agreements such as ETCA. Meanwhile, there are more controversial issues in the country. The defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa clique is repeating their pseudo slogan of ‘tigers are rising again’. It is difficult to think that the LTTE could be built again when considering the way the LTTE was militarily defeated, the manner the organization had been built and considering the needs of the LTTE. Of course, there is a political activity carried out by a few separatists in the North. However, it is not the necessity of the people in the North. It is the people in the North who were severely harmed by armed gangs, who lost their children, whose lives were unprotected and were severely distressed due to the war. Hence, there is no possibility of such a situation reoccurring. Despite the need of Rajapaksa clique is the rise of separatism in the North the aspiration of the people in the North is not that.
There are various talks about the diaspora. Separatist groups clamouring in foreign countries when there is no separatist movement in Sri Lanka would be of no use. Sinhalese and Tamil people who have gone abroad from here meet at various places for various reasons. As such, diaspora shouting once or twice a year wouldn’t give it any power in this country.
Also, a dialogue has been made to go round that a new constitution is being compiled. 1978 Constitution clearly states the process that should be followed when bringing in a new constitution. A constitution should be drafted, presented to Parliament, passed with a 2/3rd majority, presented to the President and should get it approved in a referendum.
Hence, a new constitution cannot be adopted just because an individual or a group wants. A constitution cannot be adopted in a hurry. However, Rajapaksa clique that was beaten is trying to bring up a discussion regarding a new constitution. Ranil and the government too use the constitution topic to conceal its impotency, frauds, corruption and waste. Rajapaksa clique does not have any other topic to bring up. When talking about the stealing carried out by this government the other party could say Rajapaksa clique stole more than stealing being carried out now. When talking about repression of the media, Rajapaksas have done much better. Also, Rajapaksa clique cannot talk about good governance. As such, Ranil – Maithri camp and Rajapaksa camp have made constitution issue a football to kick from side to side.
On another side they issue statements saying that there are imperialist interventions, the JVP doesn’t do anything about it, now the JVP has become unpatriotic.
Imperialism is the practices carried out to cure an own crisis when independent capitalist states are confronted with crises. It also attempts to grab profits, labour, resources and markets in the economic front. Imperialism too has a political front. It is this political front that interferes via human rights. It also has a cultural front and a military front. Imperialism is the total of all these fronts. Hence, it is only the JVP that could raise its flag high against imperialism. For that we need not get tuition from anyone. Rajapaksa clique talks about patriotism to hide the ugliness of its defeat. The struggle against imperialism could be enlivened only through a joint struggle with all other left movements in the world. The JVP is ever ready for such a task.
There is an attempt to use various topics to continue to divide the masses in the North. The limited extremist, separatist group as well as the extremism of defeated Rajapaksa clique in the South continue to act in a manner to divide the masses.
There should be a reassessment of the change that occurred on 8th January, 2015. The slogan of the extremist Tamil organizations in the North at the presidential election was people in the North should abstain from voting as electing a President is not relevant to the people in the North. Separatists declared that Tamil people should not use their votes. Mahinda Rajapaksa who was defeated said after his defeat that he was defeated due to the vote of the Tamil people. This explains Rajapaksas’ extremism. As such, Rajapaksa clique is giving life to a most sinful political front.
Under all these topics runs a colossal crisis in the country. The government does not know how many people in our country do not have a house to live in. Sometimes they say 1.5 million do not have houses. On another instance they say only .75 people do not have houses. It is the masses in the North and the South who are distressed due to the lack of a house to live in. Also, there is a dearth of jobs. 350,000 youths are unemployed. 21% of the youths who are under 25 years of age are unemployed. Youths in the North and the South suffer from unemployment. People suffer as they do not get an income to make their ends meet. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament recently that 42% of our population earn only less than US$ 2 per person. How could anyone live with an income of Rs.290? Many in our country have been denied life.
The youth in our country has been endowed with illegally enter a country. Either the mother or the son is sent abroad. This is the issue that is at the bottom. There is a genuine tragedy that ahs been concealed with the drapes of LTTE, diaspora, new constitution etc. The likes of Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa are putting up screens to conceal this tragedy. However, the JVP is prepared to create a people’s power to tear these screens and struggle with the people.
The people in our country suffer for generations to construct a house to live in. Isn’t unavailability of an abode for person a tragedy? Isn’t it a tragedy if parents are unable to give their children a good education? There are about 400 schools in our country where a single student has not been admitted. There are 2000 schools where less than 10 students have been admitted and 4000 schools where less than 20 students have been admitted. However, 26 schools get over 100,000 applications for admission. The education in our country has been reserved for a few schools and all other schools have been neglected.
People have been made vulnerable health wise; suffer from infectious diseases. They worried as they are unable to diagonise their illnesses. Due to sicknesses people have been made weak economically. As such, we have a genuine struggle. This is not a crisis of the present leader s. It is the disaster created by the rulers who ruled our country for 68 years. The economy of our country is locked in a life or death struggle for its existence.
During the past 1 ½ years thee was something that the President, the Prime Minister and eh Minister of Finance uttered regularly. It was loans, loans and loans. Our country has been locked in a massive debt trap. Also, despite nine months have gone by in this year, there is no budget yet. Ravi Karunanayaka presented a document. After a few months Ranil Wickremesinghe presented another. They are unable to tell the expenditure and eh income of the government. Daily, the Central Bank is instructed to release bonds to earn money. Or a tax is levied. The government is immersed in a colossal economic crisis. Ranil, Maithri and Ravi talk about the economic crisis just to attack Rajapaksa. Those days Rajapaksa did the same pointing fingers at Prabakaran. This shows that the country is in a colossal economic crisis. What do the likes of Ranil Wickremesinghe say now? Some had created a false notion that Ranil was an economic expert. Now the strategy is to sell state enterprises; to sacrifice state institutions and natural resources – to sign agreements such as ETCA to open the service sector.
The JVP is against selling. The economy in our country is very small. The goods and services trade is only Rs.11,000 million. The total investment is only US$680 million. Our share in the world market is only 0.05%. Exports earn only US$ 10000. In a country where such a small economy exists an essential quota should be manipulated by the government. Otherwise the economy of the country would be grabbed by a few businessmen. For example the paddy market in our country is 4 million metric tons. As a result of this is in the hands of a few businessmen the rice market has been distorted. The price of paddy has gone down but the price of rice has increased. As such, despite countries with large economies follow privatization, it doesn’t suit our small economy. It is necessary to keep power, monetary, consumer goods and services sector under the government. Otherwise there would be a distortion.
Ranil Wickremesinghe and his group want to abandon everything. Their excuse is that state institutions run at a loss and they have become a burden for the government. ‘Srilankan’ is to be sold. Ranil Wickremesinghe says the money that has to be invested in ‘Srilankan’ would be given for schools. He lies when he says it is sold because it runs at a loss. The debt burden of Srilankan is Rs.78 billion. The government gives this as the reason to sell Srilankan. However, the company is to be sold after the Treasury is burdened with its debt. The government again has to bear this loss. Hence, the talk about selling Srilankan because it inflicts losses is a lie.
These institutions run at a loss not because of the fault of the people. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Indian IOC engage in fuel trade. Fuel is imported, stored and is traded through outlets throughout the island. While IOC earns a massive profit the CPC of the government runs at a loss. How could it run at a loss when 65% to 66% of fuel market in the island is with the CPC? The fault is with the ruler. The CPC need not pay for the errors of the ruler. The Paddy Marketing Board buys paddy. The private sector too buys paddy. However Paddy Marketing Board is run at a loss. Are only CPC, PMB and Srilankan the only institutions that run at a loss and are inefficient? Is Divisional Secretariat efficient? They are very inefficient. Land offices, police stations are very inefficient. If the CPC is sold as it is run at a loss the police stations too should be sold. It is not one institution that is inefficient; the whole government is inefficient. Then the government too should be sold. What exists here is an issue about the economic policy.
Throughout the world places where independent capital could not wriggle in are owned by the government. However, opportunities have been created in Srilankan, Northern Jetty in Colombo Port to wriggle in foreign capital. The room has been created to exploit resources and labour in our country. What the likes of Ranil Wickremesinghe want to do is to create space for imperialist capital. Tender s have been already called to hand over the Northern Jetty of Colombo Port to a company. We say with resolve that the attempt to sell the Northern jetty of Colombo Port would be defeated. The Colombo port is currently ranked as the 29th busiest port in the world and it is graded 26th in international standards. Among them are 8 ports in China, 2 in India and several in Brazil.
In our country which has only a small economy Colombo Port is among 26 best ports in the world. We have 5 ports at Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Oluwil and Trincomalee. After late Ashroff became the minister Oluwil Port was constructed. A large loan was obtained for the purpose. We spent Rs. 8000 million for it. Despite declaring it open three years ago not a single ship has come to the port. Rs. 144,000 million was spent to build Hambantota Harbour. A loan of Rs. 129,000 million was taken. The loss from Hambantota Harbour is Rs.38000. All these losses are covered with the income from Colombo Port. The container affairs in Colombo Port have been handed over to 3 companies. Earlier Port Authority managed 86% of container affairs. Now it has come down to 38%. As it was not sufficiently deep the Northern Jetty was deepened recently spending a large amount of money. Now the Northern Jetty is to be sold. A government Minister said the Northern Jetty would be handed over to India as it is upset due to China getting the Port City. The tender is adjusted so that India could bid for it. This is Ranil’s economic policy. There are no economical factors here. Colombo Port would be the most important place in our economy. Hence, the attempt to sell Northern Port should be defeated.
Ranil Wickremesinghe went to China and asked them to take over Mattala Airport and Hambantota Harbour to commence industries. Hambantota Harbour for which Rs.144,000 million was spent should be sold for at lest Rs.200,000. However, China that built Hambantota Port states it is not worth Rs.144,000. This is where the fraud is. This means Rs.144,000 million has not been spent to build it.
Next, Lanka Hospitals is to be sold. Ranil Wickremesinghe who came to power in 2003 sold Insurance Corporation. Harry Jayawardene who bought Insurance Corporation bought shares from Lanka Hospitals with money earned from Insurance Corporation. There was legal action demanding that Insurance Corporation should be taken over by the government. When Insurance Corporation was taken over by the government after the trial, Lanka Hospital became the property of the government. Ranil Wickremesinghe says institutions built without an aim are now with the government. That means institutions such as Lanka Hospital. A theory is being created that selling such institutions is not a crime. Lanka Hospitals has fixed deposits worth about Rs.800 million. At present the charges for medical services including surgeries is not controlled. There is a mafia in private hospitals. As such, Lanka Hospitals could be used by the government as a center that would regulate fees and charges in private hospitals. When there is such an opportunity the government is preparing to sell Lanka Hospitals.
During the 2nd world war an oil tank farm of 102 tanks was built at Trincomalee. In this farm 10,000 metric tons of oil could be stored. Four month’s need of fuel by the country could be stored in this oil tank farm. In storing complexes at Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela could store only a month’s need of oil. The oil tank farm is so huge and it is important as it is near Troncomalee Harbour. There is the facility of distributing fuel by train. Hence, Trincomalee could be used as a center to distribute fuel. This resource could be used to benefit the country. However, eh government is attempting to sell it.
The original plan, before Hambantota Harbour was built, was to build a service complex for ships. A large number of ships sail along the sea route near Hambantota daily. If we could bunker 100 of those ships daily the country could earn a large income. 12 oil tanks were built at Hambantota Harbour spending money from Colombo Harbour. Now, Ranil Wickremesinghe wants to sell these tanks as well to IOC. Country’s resources are handed over to John Keels. How could the government say important economic centers inflict losses? The resources that bring income to the country and are owned by the people are to be sold. The rulers are sacrificing the ownership of the people.
There are 14 islands that belong to our country near Kalpitiya. They belong to our people. The President, by a memorandum, has handed over the islands to the Tourist Board. During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term two of these islands were sold. Now an island with an area of 1256 acres is to be sold. Ranil Wickremesinghe sends a letter to District Secretary, Hambantota asking him to hand over 15,000 acres from Hambantota area to companies to build factories. Lands that have come from ancestors and owned for generations are to be leased to companies.
A large number of lands in our country are to be owned by foreign countries via port city. Due to port city we lose 600 acres of lands on the surface. The land we lose under the sea – the sea bed- is more than 1000 acres. 65 million cubic meters of sand and 3.4 million stones are required to fill these areas. It is planned to get sand from Negombo lagoon. This would damage the beach around Negombo and disturb bio-diversity destroying organisms and coral reefs. It is also planned to get granite from Kaduwela, Hanwella areas. The environmental system would be severely harmed in these areas as well. On one hand state resources are sold and on the other precious resources are destroyed. Maithri – Ranil administration is like property auctioneers. All resources are auctioned. These are not governments. A government should protect resources of a country.
During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term cement factories were to be constructed under ‘’One Cement Factory in One Harbour’ concept. Accordingly, only one cement factory could be built near a harbour. The factory that could be built near Hambantota harbour was sold to a company. Now, our government is not able to build a cement factory near a harbour. This is how the resources and the rights of the people are handed over to others.
There is one sector this path of selling country’s resources could not approach. It is the information technology sector. Information technology sector is the sector that could be expanded economically. The economic value of the sector cannot be gauged. It is decided on knowledge and opportunity. All those who enter education informally too could enter information technology sector. A very methodical education is required to create a doctor or an engineer. However, doctors, engineers, arts graduates, those who have passed A/L examination could enter this sector. All of them could enter information technology sector after a certain level of education. Hence, information technology sector is a sector which opens huge opportunities for the youths of our country.
What is the government doing now is to open the information technology sector to India through ETCA. India has understood eh importance of the information technology sector. In discussions held for ETCA agreement they not prepared at all to give up IT sector. They would not sign ETCA agreement without IT sector included in it. India’s main intention is information technology sector. Present Governor of Central Bank Mr. Kumraswamy and gentlemen such as Kalegama did a huge task in preparing ETCA agreement. At a discussion a group of intellectuals asked them what was the scientific basis adopted to sign the agreement. However, it was revealed that they did not have such a scientific basis. ETCA is to be signed without any scientific evaluation.
Important software is produced through information technology. MIT is an institution that has built through this sector. This institution created important software to regulate financial affairs. The institution was praised. This Sri Lankan institution was able to create software that could regulate World share market. They were able to produce software for London share market, the Wall Street share market in the USA. As MIT institution was not given state patronage it was bought by London share market. Also, WSO2 has produced important software for Defense Department in the US. When tenders are called by the US Defense Department WSO2 has been able to compete with large companies such as Microsoft and it ahs an important place in the field. However, our governments do not invest money to develop such institutions. Instead of constructing highways such institutions could be developed. This most important sector – the IT sector- is to be handed over to India. In certain areas India is in front of Sri Lanka. In cricket we are equal. In IT too we are equal. Hence, this sector should not be made open to India. It is eh future of our youth that is to be sacrificed through ETCA.
In Rupavahini channels politicians unimportant speeches are telecast and various political pageants are displayed. Behind these pageant delusion Ranil – Maithri administration is dragging our country towards a very horrendous situation.
Hence, we have a struggle within the harbour. We must unite trade unions and political parties for such a move. A struggle should be lunched to protect youths in the IT sector. The government states talented IT specialists would come to Sri Lanka once ETCA is signed. It is a blatant lie. If talented professionals want to go abroad they select Europe and America. Hence, the highest strata in India would never come to Sri Lanka. The middle strata would remain in India. It is the lowest strata that would come to Sri Lanka. There is a huge unemployment issue in India. As such, youths in Sri Lanka would not get any opportunity in India. The talented youth in Sri Lanka may be encouraged to leave the country. Hence, ETCA should not be allowed to be signed. We must commence a struggle against ETCA.”

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Government’s tax policy is unfair – JVP opposes VAT bill

The joint Maithri – Ranil administration too cannot salvage the economy of the country, the tax policy of the government is very unreasonable and  the JVP is against the VAT states Information Secretary of the party Comrade Vijitha Herath.
Speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the party at Pelawatta today (16th) Comrade Vijitha Herath said, “The new government proved throughout last year that it, just like the previous government, cannot salvage the economy of our country. As it doesn’t have a programme to come out of the economic crisis people are burdened with excessive taxes just like the previous government. It begs for loans and relief given to the masses is slashed. This government too is left with only taking loans, slashing relief and burdening people with taxes.
The present government took loans from the IMF by promising that people would be taxed to increase the state revenue through taxation. It is due to this promise that a tax bill is presented by the government creating a state of chaos in the country. There is a principle that is adopted to implement the tax policy. According to it the taxation in a country should be definite. It should be simple and convenient for the masses. Also, it should be fair. Initially this government stated that direct taxes would be increased so that indirect taxes for the masses would be brought down. Ranil Wickremesinghe said this clearly in Parliament. Indirect taxes are levied from the masses while direct taxes are levied from those who earn very high incomes. The government that stated direct taxes would be increased has gone back on their words the rate of direct taxes brought down increasing the rate of indirect taxes. The direct taxes have been brought down from 35% to 17%. However, the taxes levied for ordinary folk have been increased. It is the ordinary folk who are tormented by the increase of VAT and Nation building tax.
The government could not implement VAT properly. When the budget was presented last December VAT was included. Later, the Prime Minister, making a special statement, increased VAT from 11% to 15%. When VAT of certain goods increased by 4% certain other areas which were not levied any taxes were brought under VAT with a rate of 15%. The letter sent to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue by the Ministry of Finance indicates this clearly. The Nation Building Tax of 2% was levied for electric bills and telephone services. As a result not only VAT increased by 4% but also certain items and services that were not taxed earlier were taxed anew. The Parliamentary approval was not sought for the VAT Bill earlier. As such, Supreme Court stating that the due constitutional procedure and the parliamentary Standing Orders had not been followed when presenting the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill nullified it. However, already the people were paying VAT. The Bill was properly presented to parliament only at the third time.
There were no big changes in the amended bill. Small shop owners closed their shops, agitated against the Bill to pressurize the government. This brought about a conflict within the government. The government has amended only the annual income of Rs.50 million needed for registration. Accordingly, only those who earn above Rs. 103800000 could register for VAT. There are other taxes that have been added. VAT has been introduced for air tickets. Milk products that include sugar have been taxed. There are many areas in health sector that have been taxed. Only a few amendments have been made due to protests by the people.
Parliamentarians of the SLFP said there were many defects in the Bill and they would bring in many amendments. What are the ne proposals put forward by the SLFP? They brought in only the proposal to increase turn-over of Rs.30 million to Rs.50 million. The taxes for mobile phones and fixed telephones remain the same. When VAT, NBT, Telecommunication levies are added a re-load of Rs.100 would be taxed 49.73%, About 2 million Sri Lankan foreign employees have to pay ‘International Telecommunication Operators Levy (ITOL)’. Mobile phones are no longer luxury items. They are a service directly utilized for production and trade. Hence levying a tax for such services is not justifiable. The vegetable farmer harvests, transports and finds out prices through mobile phones. Hence, telephone services are directly linked to production. When it is so, Minister Rajitha Senaratna says to off mobile phones if they the services are too expensive.
According to statistics the government earns 25% of its revenue from VAT. Government’s income of Rs.647,500 million included Rs.171,510 million received as VAT which was 26.48% of the income. In 2013 this rate was 24.05% and in it was 24.8%. It is the ordinary people who have to pay the large portion of this tax. This is contrary to the tax policy of a country.
The manner the VAT Bill was presented was wrong. However, people have paid the VAT. According to this tax the charges for channel services have increased by 25%. Despite levying this tax was later abandoned as it was not legal, there is no process for the people who had already paid these taxes for health services, goods and services to get back what they had paid as taxes. The people have a right to get back this money. The government must prepare a structure for it. The JVP, even then, stated that the process of increasing taxes was unfair and we opposed it. Hence, even with amendments we would vote against it. SLFP ministers despite expressing their opposition outside the parliament, they voted for it in the cabinet. They opposed outside Parliament to deceive masses. The VAT is presented jointly by the UNP and the SLFP. We ask the SLFP to vote against the Bill if they are really against it. The VAT Bill would be adopted expecting IMF loan before the budget is presented. As such, it is very evident that this ‘joint’ government has no answer for the economic crisis in our country. Both the UNP that commemorated its 70th anniversary and the SLFP that celebrated its 65th anniversary stated government formed in 2020 would be from either of their parties. However, they say they are jointly developing the country now. If they could develop the country jointly, why would they want to form a government by one of their parties? These are gimmicks to deceive their party men. Hence, we ask the people in this country to oppose the unfair tax policy of the government and its anti-peoples policies. Also, we invite the masses to come forward to build a just administration with a production economy.”

SYU takes SAITM opposition to Communist Youth Festival

The Youth Festival under the theme ‘For a world of Peace’ and the seminar held on the topic ‘The task of the youth in the struggle against imperialism’ organized by Portuguese Communist Youth, the youth organization of the Portuguese Communist Party and held between 1st and 5th of this month was attended by Comrades Pubudu Nuwan Samaraweera and Nimal Jayakody representing Socialist Youth Union of the JVP.
Representatives of Communist youth organizations in Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Palestine, Syria, Russia, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, South Africa, Morocco, Sub Sahara and Mozambique participated in the festival.
During the festival a march to protest against the imperialist agendas aimed at violating world peace was organized and representatives of the SYU and World Communist Youth organizations participated. During the festival representatives of SYU and that of Portuguese Communist Youth held several bilateral discussions. They discussed issues confronted by the youths in their countries, how to identify the causes of such issues and solutions for them. They also exchanged experiences they had gained in their countries.
Specially, how youths could get a correct knowledge about the capitalist rulers who make various false promises and how youths could be organized to fight for their rights were discussed. Representatives of SYU also apprised the representatives of world youth organization regarding the struggle being carried out by the students’ movement in Sri Lanka against SAITM, the illegal degree shop and the brutal police attack on the peaceful students’ march held on 31st August demanding the government to close down the illegal degree shop. The ‘history of SAITM struggle’ compiled by the SYU was presented and signatures were collected for the petition to add international solidarity for the struggle SYU carries out to protect free education in Sri Lanka.

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JO has become a laughing stock – Tilvin Silva

(Ceylon Today)

tilvin_silva_5General Secretary of the JVP, Tilvin Silva said in an interview with Ceylon Today, that many corruption inquiries were undertaken by various governments.’UNP and SLFP always conduct such inquiries only within a safe zone favourable to them.’ Excerpts of the interview:

?: JVP issued a statement back in 2015, during the election that Mahinda Stores consists of contraband commodities and at the same time no assurance could be issued on the commodities available at Maithri Stores. How do you assess the validity of this statement when you look back on the past 20 months?
A: As we said earlier, it is proven that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s was a corrupt government; this government too acts in a similar fashion. This government obtains unbearable loans for its survival; this government sells off State owned properties, this government too has started to loot public funds, this government too has misused hard earned tax payers funds, this government too has disregarded the promises that it made to the people, they have no remedies for the issues of the working class, such as farmers and labourers, no difference to the previous government.
This one is also marking time to sell education. Apart from the faces in control, there’s absolutely no difference between the two governments. What more proof do you expect to validate our statement?
?: JVP leader Anura Dissanayake once stated that no UNP and SLFP Government will do proper corruption inquiries against each other. What made him to make such a statement?
A: You see there were many corruption inquiries undertaken by various governments. UNP and SLFP always conduct such inquiries only within a safe zone favourable to them. Those investigations are not aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of the people. There are many inquiries conducted now, they have been initiated due to the immense pressure mounted by civil society, JVP and the progressive people. These organizations have provided evidence, complaints and sometimes conducted fierce protests pressurizing the authorities to undertake investigations. Police is probing into these allegations, but what has happened to the findings?

?: But there have been some arrests?
A: They have instituted legal action against a few in order to dilute the mounting pressure; but not against all. Especially the ones who joined the government seem to have walked away scot-free. Frontrunners of the previous government such as S.B. Dissanayake surprisingly have no inquiry against him, even though his name came up in many allegations. Therefore it is evident that all those inquiries have been launched creating a safe zone for those who are in the government. It is clear there is no genuine intention to probe into corruptions as the government is formed with the help of corrupt politicians.
Mahinda Rajapaksa bought over UNPers to strengthen his government; likewise, the present government has incorporated corrupt SLFPers to rule the country. How can they probe into each other when those alleged looters are sitting in their own circle? They make arrests for namesake, when extensive pressure is mounted by the people, from time to time.

?: What in your opinion is the reason behind this?
A: The UNP and SLFP have amalgamated for a common course, they have the same policies. There is no difference between them. Even the Rajapaksa fanatics in the Opposition are allusively supporting the Prime Minister and the government.

?: Leader of the JVP also played a part in the committee appointed to overlook the mechanism, instituted to investigate corruption. What have you achieved through that?
A: That committee has come to a closure after the prescribed period. We forced the government and the authorities to take prompt action on those cases. However, you may see we were engaged in many protests and poster campaigns to pressurize the government. We gave them evidence and proof that was in our possession. In fact Namal Rajapaksa was arrested after a complaint made by our member Wasantha Samarasinghe. We have done whatever we could within our reach. The government has been forced to undertake inquiries due to that. The government had plans to probe corruption from the beginning. You see, no action was taken against Wimal Weerawansa when he was caught misusing passports. The government has no real intention to probe into these allegations for the reason that the government itself is engaged in various corrupt practices. Corruption probing is taking place today, at least at this level, merely due to the pressure exerted by the JVP and the progressive civil movement.

?: Government has incorporated the office of the Missing Persons Bill, how do you assess it?
A: It’s really good to have a legal frame work like this. This Bill states no time or geographical demarcation to inquiry. This could go back to 1971 or 1989 if one may have a case to look into. We presented amendments to the draft and they were accepted. When there is a mechanism in place like the OMP, it prevents governments from working on their whims and fancies to abduct people as they may please. Those who oppose the Bill are striving to hand over a license to the government to abduct people. This is absolutely not the right thing to do.
We should be vigilant that no ulterior motives are associated with the Bill; especially, when it comes to the earlier proposal to hand over findings of this office to a foreign third party. We opposed that proposal, so later it was removed from the final Bill.

?: The Joint Opposition (JO) says that that Bill could lead the armed forces to the guillotine. What do you have to say about it?
A: How can they enter into the pre assumption that this Bill has an effect on our brave soldiers? If they say so, they admit to the fact that they have misused the soldiers in abductions. Those who have skeletons in their closets should be afraid of such a law coming into effect. Now when they oppose the Bill they oppose inquiring the abductions of 71 and 89. Now we have seen the same gang oppose the move when establishing FCID and enforcing the CIABOC. They are the same people who were involved in abductions and looting of public funds. So it’s a natural resistance to save them from evident danger. It’s not the soldiers but the people who gave orders to act who have become so frightened by the law.
The same people who have insincere tears for our soldiers have made use of the same soldiers as slaves in their domestic chores; to do everything, including bathing the dogs and helping them get dressed.

?: We have observed some of the alleged properties of Basil and Yoshitha Rajapaksa were confiscated due to failure to provide evidence of ownership. Isnt this a progressive step in terms of fighting corruption? Or do you see as a predetermined deal?
A: I do not know whether it’s a deal or not, but it was purely due to the mounting pressure against corruption. The alleged two properties were not claimed by Basil Rajapaksa as being his. The government should confiscate such property and establish a government institution there. The government was forced to initiate limited actions regarding the claims.

?: What is the root cause of all these? Is it after the President changed his stance from being the independent common candidate to the leader of the SLFP?
A: We told the public very clearly that we do not trust anyone. The President said he will be the independent common candidate during the campaign. But after his victory he got hold of the SLFP and started working to rebuild the party. There is a discussion in progress to study the possibility to retain the Executive Presidency without completely abolishing it. The government failed to abolish the Executive Presidency when the 19 Amendment was presented in Parliament. That clearly shows the integrity of the capitalist parties to present fairy tales during elections and act in differently when elected to power.

?: The JO organized a protest march from Kandy to Colombo. How do you see the image of the former President before and after the march?
A: Mahinda Rajapaksa lost his image when he became a Member of Parliament after the Presidential electoral defeat and also much gravely after calling himself the ‘Shadow Prime Minister’. He has no public image now. Also the whole bunch of JO has become a laughing stock among the people. Neither knew the difference between numbers, nor the direction they were heading whether it’s from Colombo to Kandy or Kandy to Colombo. Look at the following, in the march; they were nothing but drunken people who had absolutely no discipline. They got a child to recite intriguing statements about the President who is apparently their present leader. After all, it turned out to be nothing but a protest against the SLFP. JO has finally become nothing but a joke.

?: At the recent Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016, JVP leaders along with other UNPers had expressed their views on the economy. JVP and UNP have very clear and different philosophies when it comes to economic reforms. Dont you think that the JVP affirms their change in stance by taking part in this forum?
A: Don’t look at it in that way. This was organized by the Chamber of Commerce. The highest applause was for the speech delivered by our leader. We made it a forum to stage our voice; express our concerns; we pointed out the salient factors. That cannot be translated as a move to endorse the opinions of the UNP.

?: The government associated a western aligned stance in the beginning, but, now we see it divert back to China, momentarily. How do you see this?
A: It’s very clear. The government never had its own policy on the economy. We should always be open to the international community but with the only intention of achieving beneficial agreements for the country. We do not need to bend down in front of the Westerners, Indians or Chinese if we have proper plans in place. This is what happens when we do not have an independent economic plan for our country.

Govt policy discourages paddy farming – President ACPF

(Ceylon Today)

namal_karunarathne_1This week trade union talk is about farmers who are an important segment on the labour force of the country. Ceylon Today interviewed the President of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation (ACPF) Namal Karunaratne who spoke of issues concerning farmers.

During the interview, Karunaratne said that although there is a certified price for paddy which is higher than the market price, only the government paddy stores purchases paddy at that price. He noted, only around 5 per cent of total paddy produced is bought by government paddy stores. As a result of that most of the paddy is sold at a very low price. Even the paddy bought by the paddy stores, is later sold at a very low price. Although the price of paddy comes down, the price of rice is never reduced. There are few wealthy and powerful businessmen who control rice prices.
ACPF suggests reducing the cost of production. According to estimates of the government the cost of production per kilo of paddy is approximately
Rs 33. He pointed out that the support of the government to reduce the production cost of paddy would benefit farmers as well as consumers.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
?: More often than not farmers in Sri Lanka are faced with issues; what are the burning issues faced by farmers these days?
A: There are a lot of issues faced by farmers these days. Paddy farmers had to sell paddy at a very low price as the price of paddy had come down. The government intervention in paddy purchasing is not sufficient. Paddy farmers cannot even cover the production cost by selling paddy at the market price. At present the price of a kilo of paddy is Rs 26 and it is likely to go down by next month when harvesting takes place. Meanwhile, big onion farmers too are facing issues due to the high cost of production and the low selling price. The fate of the vegetable farmers in the up-country is pretty much the same. The high price of fertilizer has affected them badly. Very soon soya farmers will face the same issue.
These issues are nothing new. Farmers have been facing these issues over the years, yet the politicians have turned a blind eye to their plight.
?: When you say that farmers do not receive a sufficient price for their produce, it also indicates that by the increase of the price of such produce as rice, farmers should receive more. In that case, the consumers will have to pay more and the cost of living would go up. How do you suggest balancing the two?
A: We suggest reducing the cost of production. According to government estimates the cost of production per kg of paddy is approximately Rs 33; this is a pretty outdated estimate. The production cost is higher than that. However, as I noted before the selling price of a kg of paddy is only around Rs 26. in that context, we ask the government to take measures to reduce the cost of production so that the consumers too will get rice at a lower price; that way the consumers’ interests as well as producers’ interests are ensured.
At present, there is a certified price for paddy which is higher than the market price. However, only the government paddy stores purchases paddy at that price. Only around 5 per cent of the total paddy produced is bought by the government paddy stores. As a result of that most of the paddy is sold at a very low price. Even the paddy bought by the govt paddy store is later sold at a very low price. Although the price of paddy comes down, the price of rice is never reduced. There are few wealthy and powerful businessmen who control the price of rice. These businessmen are affiliated to politics too. They keep a profit around Rs 15 for each kg of rice and the farmers as well as consumers pay for it. It is in that context, that we call for strong government intervention.

?: What are your suggestions to address the issues faced by farmers; what specific measures should the government take?
A: As I told you the production cost has to come down. For that production subsidies should be given to farmers and a certified price should be imposed on paddy, applicable to everyone. The government should take control. Rice Research and Development Institute, was established for that very reason of protecting farmers and consumers.
We suggest providing fertilizer subsidies and machinery at lower prices and also providing relief. It should be noted that most farmers do not get a high income. Providing these subsidies is not a one way transfer. The domestic food production in a country is very vital and it is the job of the government to promote it. It is in the national interest of protecting domestic industries and with the long term objective of gaining self sufficiency.

?: Agriculture as a percentage of the GDP has declined over the years; farmers are moving away from agriculture as well; how do you view this scenario?
A: Actually, steps taken by successive governments forced farmers to leave agriculture, which is bad decision making, given that domestic food production is very vital to the economy. Recently, the Finance Minister had said that paddy farming is not that important and it is cheaper to import rice from abroad. So far the government has not claimed that it is a personal view of the minister and not of the government. This government appears to be of that stance and their attitude towards paddy farming is a negative one.
The policy of the government is to discourage paddy farming. Paddy cultivation is affiliated with the culture of the country too. In addition, in a recent statement by the Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake he claimed that the government wants to take land off agriculture. All of the actions are aimed at discouraging farmers. The cost of fertilizer is high; cost machinery is also high, which force farmers to leave agriculture.
The Minister of Irrigation claimed that the space used for agriculture should be reduced. He said one hectare will be taken away from agriculture. At present, every farmer is faced with issues. Sadly, the new generation distance themselves from agriculture. The government has a master plan to buy lands from farmers and sell it to the private sector.
During this year, nearly 250,000 farmers have left paddy cultivation. In fact they were forced to leave agriculture by the government; through not supporting them in their efforts. Water was not provided to farmers and their issues are ignored. Each year a lot of rice is imported. The government is lying; they have no intention of developing the agriculture sector.

?: Efficiency in agriculture seems very low; while nearly 30 per cent of the labour force is in agriculture. The contribution from agriculture to the GDP is only 10 per cent. What are your views on that?

A: It is true that agriculture is very labour intensive in comparison to production. As you said, we too have identified that as a concern. However, the issue is the government’s negative attitude towards agriculture. The government had claimed that there can be excess production of paddy; and the labour involved in paddy is of no use. However, it should be noted that the job of the government is to make ways for the excess produced to be exported and develop the agriculture sector instead of having a negative attitude towards it. People have a lot of respect for farming and it is affiliated with age old culture. The government seems to have totally forgotten it. We cannot forget the culture that is affiliated with farming.
The government needs to provide farmers with new technology so that the productivity of the agriculture sector can be increased. The productivity in the agriculture sector is very low in Sri Lanka in comparison to many other countries, the harvest per square metre is very little and that can be increased by introducing new types of seeds as well as new farming techniques. However, such actions were not taken by the government. There has to be an attitudinal change in the leaders regarding agriculture.

?: There are talks about using information technology to develop the agriculture sector. What are your thoughts on it?
A: As we see there are a lot of ways in which information technology can be used to develop the agriculture sector. However, as I told you the major issue is with the government attitude. As long as the government does not have a positive attitude towards the agriculture sector, no progress will take place. Not only information technology, there are many latest technologies that can be used to develop agriculture, but it requires effort from the government.

Remove all obstacles to hold local government elections

As the President has already promised to hold the local government elections at the beginning of next year all obstacles that would prevent holding an election should be removed and all issues regarding holding local government elections should be solved states the JVP.
The General Secretary of the JVP Comrade Tilvin Silva said authorities should take immediate steps to solve issues regarding the Local Government Act and the delimitation process and added that the JVP has already had discussions with election officials regarding the relevant issues. He said the party, despite an election has not been announced, has already commenced work at grassroots level to get ready for an election.
He said ‘Diriya Citizens’ Societies are being formed at grassroots level to face any future elections and to agitate against unfavourable moves and the party organization would be strengthened through these societies added the General Secretary of the JVP.

Comrade Bimal Rathnayake to China

The Parliamentarian of the JVP and the National Organizer Comrade Bimal Rathnayake will leave for a two day official visit to China tomorrow (12th).
The visit is an official visit granted by China for a team of Parliamentarians and discussions with representatives of the host country would take place on the 13th and 14th.
Comrade Bimal Rathnayake will also have a discussion with the Head of the International Affairs of the Chinese Communist Party .