“The government, while burdening the people with a huge load of tax, has allocated a large amount of money for its spending. This government has already allocated a large amount of money for various ministries in a supplementary estimate presented to Parliament last Thursday. Rs.594.3 million has been allocated to buy two VIP security vehicles for Prime Minister’s office. Rs. 4,260,000 has been allocated for the repairs for the official residence of the Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando. Also, Rs. 8,850,000 has been allocated for the repairs of the official residence of the Minister of Postal Services and Muslim Affairs. The ordinary people are given only a paltry sum of Rs.300,000 to build a house. However, Rs.8.8 million is allocated for the repairs of a minister’s residence. Also Rs.116 million has been allocated for a cultural complex in the ministry. Rs. 60 million has been allocated to prepare an office complex for the Minister of Public enterprise development Kabir Hashim. Rs. 700 million has been allocated for the expenditure of these ministers only,” said the Leader of the JVP Comrade Anura Dissanayaka addressing a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta yesterday (10th). JVP Parliamentarian Comrade Sunil Handunneththi and Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP Comrade Lal Kantha too were present.
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka said, “Even before this government came to power we said their economic policy is not beneficial to the people. We also said we couldn’t give any guarantee about this government. We said a different economic system should replace their economic policy and the JVP presented a manifesto describing our policies before the election. However, the people, instead of accepting the alternative economic policy brought this government to power.
This government has ruled for a period more than a year now. A period of 1 ½ years is quite sufficient to assess the economic path of any government. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has been the president for about 1 ½ years. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has been the Prime Minister and Mr. Ravi Karunanayaka has been the Minister of Finance for nearly 1 ½ years. The people have realized these gentlemen’s economic policy would not take their lives forward even by an inch.
The paddy farmer doesn’t get a fair price for his produce. The tea or the rubber farmer doesn’t get a fair price for his produce. We see that all sectors have broken down when we go deep into this economy. The rupee has got drastically devalued. Rs.147 has to be paid for a dollar. We are trapped under a huge debt mountain. When a tin of salmon was imported for US$1 we had to pay only Rs.130 when buying it. But now we have to pay Rs.147. the prices of clothes, industrial goods and all imports go up in price by 15% to 20% due to the breakdown of the rupee.
The government has increased VAT from 2nd May. According to the Constitution in our country the financial power is with the Parliament. Accordingly, the budget that describes the income and expenditure for the year is presented to Parliament. This government presented the budget for 2016 in November last year. The budget was adopted in December after a long debate of 26 days. Then the government said it passed the budget with a majority of 2/3rd in Parliament. In that budget VAT was taken off for certain sectors and 8% VAT was recommended certain sectors and 11% for some others. This is how the VAT for 2016 was adopted with a majority of 2/3rd. When a majority in the Parliament approved the budget we opposed it. When the budget was adopted in this manner the Prime Minister, without any discussion but making a statement in Parliament in March increases VAT. VAT is levied for sections that had been released from it earlier. Documents released to the Department of Inland Revenue clearly indicate this. VAT has been increased from 8% to 15% for retail goods. VAT has been increased from 11% to 15% for certain sections. Recently, Trade Association issued a notice for the information of the public. Bakery owners say at least Rs.5 should be increased for a bun. Hotel owners say a packet of lunch would be increased by Rs.20. The water bill will go up with the increase in taxes. The government now says they would not tax essential goods. We’d like to ask the government whether the bun, the packet of lunch, medicine, telephone bill electricity bill are not essential goods and services? How could the government say people’s essential goods and services are not taxed? When we enter a Rs.100 reload for our pre-paid telephone connection, we pay a tax of nearly Rs.50. As such, people have been burdened with a huge tax mountain.
However, the government, while burdening the people with a huge load of tax, has allocated a large amount of money for its spending. This government has already allocated a large amount of money for various ministries in a supplementary estimate presented to Parliament last Thursday. Rs.594.3 million has been allocated to buy two VIP security vehicles for Prime Minister’s office. Why is Rs.594.3 million spent for two security vehicles? Rs. 4,260,000 has been allocated for the repairs for the official residence of the Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando. Also, Rs. 8,850,000 has been allocated for the repairs of the official residence of the Minister of Postal Services and Muslim Affairs. The ordinary people are given only a paltry sum of Rs.300,000 to build a house. However, Rs.8.8 million is allocated for the repairs of a minister’s residence. Also Rs.116 million has been allocated for a cultural complex in the ministry. Rs. 60 million has been allocated to prepare an office complex for the Minister of Public enterprise development Kabir Hashim. Rs. 700 million has been allocated for the expenditure of these ministers only.
Hence, we do not consent to this tax process of the government. We would commence a leaflet campaign to apprise the masses regarding this sordid move. We have also organized a massive agitation against the tax policy of this government. The people should reject and defeat the blood sucking tax policy of this government that is carried out for the lavish lifestyles of the Prime Minister and the ministers in the cabinet.”
Speaking at the press conference Comrade Sunil Handunneththi said, “Recently, COPE summoned about 30 state institutions for investigations. A large amount of financial frauds and financial crimes committed by these institutions have been revealed. A general report is being prepared on institutions like the Ceylon Electricity Board where financial frauds have been committed. We have obtained the assistance of the Auditor General too for this purpose. We hope to table this report at the beginning of June. Already, reports on these investigations have been made available to the President, the Prime Minister and certain ministers. However, we are not satisfied with the action they have taken regarding these reports. Hence, we hope to state how ministries have responded regarding the reports and present recommendations regarding action that has to be taken on these reports.
We get reports that a process has been activated after our investigations to change the ownership of private companies attached to Ceylon Electricity Board or abolish them. We would expose those who have prevented the CEB receiving large sums of money owed by these companies to it and instead pocketing the funds. Already, the Auditor General has been requested to make an investigation on these private companies. We would also get assistance from the Registrar of Companies. These private electricity companies receive income in millions. Despite having 7 Rs.10 shares some of these companies deal in millions. How could that happen? Hence, we requested the Speaker to give us power to take legal action regarding fraudsters. We have also asked for a representative from the Attorney General’s Department.
The Chairman of Agrarian Insurance Board has deployed officials of the Department to carry out functions of a private insurance company. How could a Chairman of a state institution become the owner of a private company? How could he carry out insurance affairs of private companies deploying state employees? We have referred the matter to the Committee on High Posts in Parliament to take a decision regarding his post. A situation has arisen where ministers take decisions ignoring decisions taken by Parliamentary committees. The issue becomes difficult if ministers or ministries do not accept decisions given by COPE. Minister S.B. Dissasnayaka deducted Rs.100 from the allowance given to senior citizens saying a fund would be established. When COPE stopped this move the Minister write s to ministers justifying his move. S.B. Dissanayaka should accept decision of the COPE instead of attempting to carry out his wishes.
These politicians have connections with frauds and corruption. They come to politics to engage in frauds and corruption. COPE alone cannot prevent such moves and the system that encourages such acts. Hence, this injustice should be taken to the masses. For they steal people’s money. If the government elected by the people steal people’s money that injustice ahs to be told to the people. Legal action against fraudsters and the corrupt should be taken by Attorney General, Bribery Commission and such institutions. If these institutions too act according to the interests of politicians the people have to take decisions. Hence, we propose and other such committees should be open to masses. This system is followed in many countries. We ask the Speaker to make necessary adjustments to allow such a system to be followed here. Investigations carried out by these committees should be revealed to the people through media.