International Trade State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe said the “affluent class” of Sri Lanka should be brought under the tax net as the majority of these individuals were not paying their due amount to the Government.
Speaking at the 20th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (EASL), he pointed out that tax revenue as a percentage of GDP should move from 11% to at least about 20%.
“With the new tax laws we will be hit, especially the rich. It is only 11% when it has to be 20% and the bulk of it is not paid by us, the so-called affluent class. I know it is not easy but we have to face it and make difficult decisions,” Senasinghe stressed.
He emphasised the good governance that the coalition Government has brought into the system, noting that it was biting back with protests and all types of trade union action.
“People do not know what good governance is, they are just getting used to it. They think good governance is for any policy decision, for anything you can take union action and protest,” he added.
However, the Minister asserted that it was critical to make hard decisions, which may be unpopular.
The Minister also said that Sri Lanka was politically well ahead of a lot of countries from the region, which was an advantage for the country to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
Noting that a lot of work has gone into drafting important trade-related policies and Government agencies, Senasinghe stated: “We are trying to get a blueprint by August so that we can get that involved in the next Budget. We started working on the export policy from January.”
He also acknowledged that China has chosen Sri Lanka as its second largest investor. “The Chinese Ambassador has pledged I believe $ 6 billion within about five to six years.”
The Minister said that the Government would do its best to meet the high expectations of the people and expressed confidence that Sri Lanka would be in a brilliant position in about another three to four years’ time.