Tax concessions to vehicle importers
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided when Parliament met at 1 pm
yesterday. After the presentation of papers and oral questions, the
House took up several orders under the Excise (Special Provisions) Act
and Stamp Duty (Special Provisions) Act for debate.
International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister Dr. Sarath
Amunugama: I submit an order under the Excise (Special Provisions) Act
and two orders under the Stamp Duty (Special Provisions) Act for the
approval of Parliament.
The regulations before this House today, was aimed at providing tax
concessions to vehicle importers who purchase vehicles to provide
transport facilities to passengers from and to the international airport
and to release the vehicles imported by the government.
They were also intended to do away with the requirements of complying
with the stamp duty when the government was investing in development
Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe: I requested for a
list and register of shares purchased by the government from the Finance
Ministry. I asked for a list certified by the Secretary to the Finance
Ministry. But the answer given by the government was not completed.
There was no signature of the Secretary to the Finance Ministry in
The answer did not include the purchasing prices of shares, dates of
purchasing and their current market prices.
There were no proper answers for the questions raised by me with
regard to the EPF and ETF funds invested in the share market.
If the Finance Ministry was not ready to answer the question, they
should have informed me.
Why is the government scared of giving the promised answers is a
matter that needs an explanation.
If the Opposition Leader raised a question not only in Sri Lanka, but
also in other countries, the ruling party has a responsibility to
provide answers to questions.
The EPF funds of the innocent working class, has been misappropriated
by the government. Nearly Rs. 50,000 million of the EPF Fund had been
misused. It is the people that suffer at the end.
Opposition leader’s allegations are baseless
International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister Dr. Sarath
Amunugama: Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe made a number of
accusations against the government.
All these allegations are baseless. I must emphasize that the
government does not want to hide anything related to the investment of
EPF and ETF funds in the share market.
You are unable to state that this was a loss incurring deal. You
cannot say this was a loss incurring transaction by highlighting the
current prices of the shares in the share market. Our economy is very
strong today. The economic growth rate has been registered as 8 percent.
So we are able to assure that this investment would not be a loss
incurred. Any share market in any other country would have a difficult
time. It is a common theory in the world. One day we could make profits
and on a another day a loss could be incurred. We are a working class
friendly government. We do not hesitate to provide benefits to the
Chandima Weerakkody (UPFA): Today our economy is growing at a fast
rate. We need to amend the law for the betterment of the people and
facilitate for the development of the country.
These amendments submitted to Parliament would definitely help to
strengthen the country’s economy.
Govt should inquire into Nimala Ruban’s death
Especially these amendments would lead to the development of the
rural economy. There is nothing wrong with investing money in the share
market by the government. This would pave the way for the private sector
to invest more money in the share market.
M.A. Sumanthiran (TNA): A political prisoner Nimala Ruban, had died
at the Ragama hospital today, due to assaults by Prison officers and the
Police. I strongly protest against this incident. There are many Tamil
political prisoners in prison, who have been subjected to assault and
harassment. I request the government to take immediate action to prevent
such illegal activities. The government should also conduct an immediate
inquiry in regard to the death of Nimala Ruban.
It is also necessary to provide information of the Tamil political
prisoners detained in countrywide prisons to their relatives.
Country’s economy growing step by step
Shantha Bandara (UPFA): Our economy is growing step by step, but the
Opposition never utter a word concerning the progress achieved by the
government, but try to criticize the development projects. When ships
had arrived at the Hambantota Harbour, the members of the Opposition
were silent. They make various allegations against the government,
targeting the upcoming elections.
We were able to restore normalcy and revive development despite many
national and international man made and natural disasters.
Politicos never intervened in the stock market
Dayasiri Jayasekara (UNP): Today we could see the private sector
doing their best to get their needs fulfilled by the government. They
have joined hands with the government.The stock market has totally
collapsed as never before. Politicians never intervened in the share
market in the past, but it is happening today.
There is a mafia in the share market. The economy is no more open,
but controlled by a few people. We as UNPers feel sorry for this plight.
A.H.M. Azwer takes the Chair
Asian countries have appreciated President’s integrity
Social Services Minister Feliex Perera: Nobody would question or be
worried of increasing the tax on liquor. The government reduces the tax
by 50 percent on vehicles used as taxies at the Airport. It will be
granted to those who have been engaged in the trade for more than five
This is to develop the tourism industry, which would bring foreign
exchange to the country. The government has identified its priorities.
The President’s integrity has been appreciated by the entire Asian
countries. Singapore does not import three-wheelers to their country as
it causes environmental pollution.
Tax on imported cars have been reduced
Eran Wickramaratne (UNP): Today we are talking about tax. However,
the tax on import of racing cars had been reduced.
Social Services Minister Feliex Perera: It is not true. The tax on
import of racing cars had not been reduced.
Eran Wickramaratne (UNP): One amendment introduced today is the
vesting of powers to the President to exempt tax on import of vehicles
by special persons. It is OK, but what is the yardstick to identify
these special persons?
Ranjith de Soyza (UPFA): During the last budget proposals, the
President stated that a simple tax system would be introduced to grant
relief to the people who had suffered from the terrorism menace.
When the government imposes or reduces taxes, the Opposition makes
negative criticism. There has never been constructive criticism.
The Opposition spoke of the national economy, government institutions
and selling lands like new borns. They have forgotten that an acre of
land had been sold at Rs 2.50 during the UNP regime.
Nimala Ruban died of a heart attack
Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera: TNA
MP Sumanthiran, alleged that LTTE suspect Nimala Ruban had died due to
brutal attacks by prison officers and police officers. This is a
completely false statement. This suspect had been suffering from heart
problems for a long time. He was being treated for his illness. He had
been transferred to the Ragama hospital. He had died at the hospital and
a post mortem examination is being conducted. Therefore, I deny the
allegations made by MP Sumanthiran.
No action taken in regard to misappropriation of EPF, ETF funds
Dr Harsha de Silva (UNP): If there had been any fraudulent activities
taking place at the share market, the Colombo Stock Exchange should
conduct an investigation.
It has all the powers to conduct an investigation. But no
investigation had been conducted so far with regard to the
misappropriation of the EPF and ETF funds.The government should cancel
this loss incurred deal. It is necessary to appoint a special committee
to look into and probe this matters.
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen: As a responsible
government, we are always sensitive to the needs of the people. There is
a great improvement in the local production sector during the past five
years. The export sector has also improved. A new industrial park will
be built in Batticaloa.
Another new industrial park will be set up in Jaffna. Through the
Divi Neguma project, small scale entrepreneurs have been upgraded into
exporters of the country.
Politicos given tax concessions to buy vehicles
Sunil Handunnetti (DNA): When ordinary people cannot afford the
recent price hike for purchasing a vehicle, all Provincial Councillors
and politicians have been given tax concessions for the purchase of
vehicles. Today, government politicians use public funds for their
Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Geethanjana Gunawardena: Dr
Sarath Amunugama gave a very meaningful answer to the question raised by
the Opposition Leader with regard to the EPF and ETF.
Many Opposition members such as Dayasiri Jayasekera, Ravi
Karunanayake, Dr Harsha de Silva and John Amaratunga, have also raised
questions previously with regard to the EPF and ETF funds. We have
answered the questions in a very transparent manner.
We have acted very accurately at all times. Today the Opposition
wants to hide their shortcomings by making false allegations against the
government. They shed crocodile tears with regard to the EPF and ETF
funds. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he was minister of labour, took
measures to strengthen the EPF and ETF funds. Only 5 percent of the EPF
funds have been invested in the share market and the balance of 95
percent is very safely lying in government securities.
Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday stated that Sri Lanka
was the best country in the region in controlling the dengue epidemic
and the government was taking all probable steps to eliminate the
epidemic from the country.
He made this observation in response to an Adjournment Motion moved
by UNP MP Gayantha Karunathilake.
Dengue spreading at an alarming rate
Gayantha Karu nathilake (UNP): The dengue epidemic is spreading at an
alarming rate. Cuba could eliminate the dengue epidemic.
There are various programmes in progress to control it. But they are
Janaka Bandara takes the Chair.
Ajith Perera (UNP): It seems that there is no specific treatment for
the dengue epidemic.
Dengue is not found in Europe. So they do not do research to find
treatment to the dengue epidemic. So we have to undertake research. How
much have we allocated for these researches?
A H M Azwer (UPFA): The government is totally committed to eradicate
this dengue epidemic. The hospitals and other related institutions work
hard day and night to achieve this end.
This epidemic has been identified as a national issue and a
Presidential Task Force has been set up to attend to this matter. The
people should keep their environment clean to get rid of the dengue
Clear legal action have been taken against 5,000 people for not
keeping their environment clean to prevent the dengue epidemic.
President has pledged unlimited funds to eliminate dengue
Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena: I am happy for making a
platform to have a dialogue on the dengue epidemic which has become an
issue to many nations.Today around 200 persons die each day in Delhi
only. In Mexico, millions are suffering from the dengue disease and in
Malaysia too the situation is the same. Cuba destroys everything in a
house if the dengue larva is found somewhere in a house. In Singapore a
person is imprisoned if dengue larva is found in his area.
The President has allocated Rs 300 million for the eradication of
dengue this year.
He has pledged unlimited money for this purpose. I have to say
proudly that our country is the best country in the region which has
controlled the dengue epidemic.
Special treatment units have been established in hospitals and
required medicines made available. The Defence Ministry has deployed
around 10,000 personnel for this purpose.
In 1934 -1935, around 80,000 people had died of Malaria, and it had
taken around 80 years to eliminate the epidemic.
There is a dengue eliminating month in progress by now.
During the last two weeks, the number of dengue patients had dropped.
However, our doctors went to Pakistan to train their doctors to control
the dengue epidemic as our dengue control programmes had been
However this mosquito spreads due to the increasing warmth of the
environment. In addition, 120 experts to control dengue larva is working
hard in each district to eliminate the dengue epidemic.
However, the people too have to commit themselves to eliminate the
I have sent letters to all the 225 members in the House, requesting
their support to eradicate this dengue epidemic.
The government’s objective is to protect each and every person from
all possible disasters and the government led by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa is committed to perform its duty to protect the people.
The House was adjourned until 1 pm today.
‘No back-up vehicles for MPs’
Except two policemen, no other security facilities including back up
vehicles are not given to an MP, Chief Government Whip Water Supply and
Drainage Minister Dinesh Guanwardena told Parliament yesterday.
Only two bodyguards, either from the Police Department of the
Ministerial Security Division are provided to each MP, the minister
said, responding to a question raised by Kurunegala District UNP MP
Dayasiri Jayasekera. MP Jayasekera said the answer was incorrect as MPs
have been provided with back-up vehicles.
Minister Gunawardena: No, what you say is wrong.
An MP is entitled to have only two security men. No back-up vehicles
are provided to them.
MP Jayasekera: Those who had crossed over from our side to the
government, have been provided with back up vehicles and security men.
There is nothing wrong with providing security, but when you say no
back up vehicles are provided it’s a lie.
If you need, I could give the names of those MPs and the registered
numbers of their back up vehicles.
Minister Gunawardena: Some MPs have been provided with additional
security and back-up vehicles when there have threats.
These allocations of security and its size are decided on the basis
of intelligence reports on the threats against those MPs.
Tradition breached when ministers are not present to answer
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said yesterday that it would be an honour to
the House if the subject ministers could be present to respond to the
questions raised by Opposition members.
The Speaker said so after the government side asked for additional
time for ten out of 15 questions raised by the Opposition yesterday.
Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga, raising a point of order, said
that that the subject ministers should be present with the relevent
answers in the House at question time to respond to the Opposition. This
basic tradition of the House was breached and violated when those
ministers were absent and the government was asking for more and more
time to respond. MP Amaratunga pointed out that it has become a habit
for the Chief Government Whip, Water Supply and Drainage Minister to
read out responses sent by ministers to the House and the latter was not
conversant enough with affairs of other ministries to respond to
supplementary questions raised by Opposition members.
‘Disabled War Heroes granted Rs 65,000 each’
Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh
Gunawardena, yesterday stated that an allowance of Rs 65,000 had been
provided to each disabled War Hero. He made this observation in response
to a question raised by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake.
Minister Gunawardena further stated that their pension was also
inclusive in the allowance. He added that it was this government under
President Mahinda Rajapaksa that provided the highest allowances to the
War Heroes than any other government.
Supplementary estimate of Rs 500 million for payment of allowances
A supplementary estimate of Rs 500 million had been submitted before
Parliament yesterday for several reasons, including paying allowances
for the newly recruited graduate trainees to District Secretariats.
Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh
Gunawardena submitted the supplementary estimate to pay allowances to
the newly recruited graduate trainees to Kurunegala, Colombo, Gampaha,
Kalutara, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Matara, Hambantota,
Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Moneragala, Ratnapura,
Kegalle and also to pay the salaries and allowances for the newly
recruited staff of the National Child Protection Authority.
The supplementary estimate included 50 spending units.