‘Powerful’ companies evaded taxes for 5-6 years

  • COPA highlights govt. losses due to outdated policies

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitarana stated that a number of powerful companies in the country, which have a good auditing and accounting systems, have not paid their taxes to the Department of Inland Revenue for a period of five to six years, and the amount of tax lost due to this is huge.

He pointed out that the reason for this is that these companies have been given the opportunity to appeal three times regarding taxes due.

The same institutions should not be allowed to file appeals three times and due to this not only the delay in payment of taxes, but also the subsequent court action against it has taken a long time, he said.

He also said that six months have been given for appeals, and recommended that the number of opportunities for appeals be reduced to one.

He added that the government and the country lose a large amount of money annually due to the policies not being updated and the irregularities in many government institutions.

Prof. Tissa Vitarana stated this while presenting the first report of the Committee on Public Accounts for the first session of the 9th Parliament.

Prof. Vitharana said that this report submitted by the COPA is a comprehensive report and it has made recommendations on the steps that should be taken to recover the lost revenue.

He pointed out that the country loses a huge amount of money due to not updating certain policies in the country, and the annual expenditure on human-elephant conflict is one of the best examples of this.

According to the existing policies, the annual budget allocates a large amount of money every year for activities including the construction of elephant fences. What is done here is to confine the elephants to a single confined area and fence them around. What often happens is that the baby elephants and female elephants are herded into the area. Giant elephants will not be herded there. Then after some time, when there is a shortage of food in that confined area, the animals would be starving and dying. At that time troublemaking huge elephants would attack villages, So obviously the policy was wrong, he said.

Therefore, this policy should be changed, and the proposals for that have been included in the report, said Prof. Vitharana. He further said that elephant fences should be made not only around the area where the people live, but also around the farm lands, and an environment should be created for the elephants in the rest of the area to roam freely. This method has been tested in Anuradhapura and Galgamuwa areas by Dr. Preethiviraj Fernando, and has obtained very high results, COPA chairman added.

Prof. Vitharana said that he had visited these areas and held discussions with the villagers who approved this methodology, and by now the conflict between humans and elephants has naturally subsided. Due to this, a comprehensive report has been submitted to revise the policies, he said.