The Government has incurred a loss of Rs. 9,991 million of State revenue last year due to the removal of taxes imposed on the import of 12 essential consumer items as a relief measure to the public.
Trade Marketing Development, Co-operatives and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardana told the Daily News that the Government had granted a huge tax relief sacrificing a vast amount of government revenue on the import of essential items.
Parliament approved the Special Commodity Levy Act in 2007 for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, the Minister said.
Under this, a number of taxes including the Ports and Aviation Levy (PAL), VAT, Cess Levy, Surcharges, Social Responsibility Levy (SRL) and Customs Duty were removed on 12 essential items and brought them under one small unit tax.
A gazette notification has been issued by introducing a Special Commodity Levy and according to the gazette notification, importers of essential items have to pay a single tax, he explained.
They import 12 essential items such as gram, rice, sugar, potatoes, dhal, red onion, B onion, green gram, sprats, dried chillies, canned fish and milk powder on this tax relief in order to provide reliefs to consumers.
Though this Act was brought to Parliament with the intention of providing relief to consumers, the Opposition voted against this for the first time in history, he said. This attempt of the opposition parties had shown their dislike on reducing the burdens placed on the people. But as a responsible Government, we are committed in relieving the burdens of the people and took measures to pass the Act overlooking protests of the Opposition, the Minister explained.
Sathosa outlets and co-operatives islandwide are engaged in selling these 12 essential items.