|Tuesday, 5 October 2004|
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When the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced effective 1.4.1998, payment for the relevant period (either month or quarter) had to be made on or before the last working day of the following month.
Regrettably the remittance slip and the return form were included in the same form and we were compelled to compute the GST accurately once and for all and make the payment. Whereas, in the case of Withholding Tax, and Revenue Tax paid to the Provincial Council, paying-in-slips were issued to make the payment on or before the 15th of following month and overpayment, if any could be properly accounted for when submitting the Return later. The anomaly in the GST form was not rectified and regrettably when VAT was introduced effective 1.8.2002 the same procedure was continued.
We now understand that with effect from quarter ending 30.9.2004 VAT payments have to be made on or before the 15th of the following month and Tax payers have received the relevant Remittance from (including the Return) stating the last date for payment as 15.10.2004. I am of the opinion that this interval of two weeks is too short.
During festival seasons, staff absenteeism is high with number of working days also reduced. Further, it has to be admitted that the cash flow of the business enterprises is also adversely affected by the payment date being advanced.
I make the following suggestions:
(1) To introduce a paying-in-slip to make the VAT payments on or before the 15th of the next month. The only extra work would be to print the paying slips. However, the adverse effect on the cash flow will not be rectified.
(2) To clearly announce the last dates for payment. If the last date for payment falls on a bank holiday, the next working day should be stated as the due date for payment.
(3) To permit the return to be submitted together with a copy of the paying-in-slip duly endorsed by the Bank, on or before the last working day of the following month. Tax authorities should understand that taxes have to be collected with the minimum problem to the tax payers so as to obtain their fullest co-operation. Or otherwise, tax evasion, suppression of information etc. would be on the rise.
I appeal to the relevant authorities to consider these facts favourably and provide adequate relief to the Tax payers under administrative measures, even if not under the Tax law.
S. R. BALACHANDRAN, Council member, The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka
We often hear of various programmes and campaigns related to protecting trees. It was only recently that the CMC and Ruk Reka Ganno initiated a campaign to number the trees in the city of Colombo. This is well and good but in their campaign to number the trees, do they lift their heads and see the condition of the trees.
Many trees in the city have parasites on them which will eventually kill the parent tree.
Even those magnificent flowering trees planted from Ratmalana to Moratuwa on Galle Road have parasites on them and no one seems to take any notice of them.
Then we have the gangs which come and chop off branches of trees (CMC and Telecom and CEB Workers) and leave the branches on the roadside for days. Why can't these workers bring another truck and load the cuttings direct onto it like what they do in Singapore and Bangkok.
PADMI FERNANDO, Dehiwela
It is most disgusting to hear daily about the strikes going on in the public sector. It is quite acceptable that they have to fight for their rights, but there is another aspect to be looked into. As much as they fight for their rights, they must analyze and see whether they are fulfilling their obligations towards the productivity of the organization.
It is quite evident that most of the public sector employees work in nonchalant way compare to the private sector employees.
Without focusing only on their demands they must try to be innovative and put forward new strategies to make the organisation viable to compete with the private sector. It is high time for them to do away with the lethargic attitudes and be dynamic in working towards the progress of the organisation.
The more they fight for their demands, they also must contribute more and take the challenge to work competently with the private sector.
Creating commotions in the public sector will hinder the economy in the country which will eventually be felt by everyone of us.
MANGALIKA WIJETUNGE, Mattegoda
When I got my application form from the girl at the travel agency she told me that the Visa Office is nearby. I walked to and fro down Duplication Road and eventually saw a board which said British Visa application centre. I have seen bigger boards down Maharagama about English tuition by qualified Sirs!
Anyway the man at the wicker gate Lord Birmingham looked at my application, looked at me twice over and gave me a coloured slip with a number. There are two colours and I wasn't aware what it denoted. We were asked to go to a room which was overcrowded and everybody was anxiously waiting to be called like at a massage parlour at Bangkok. My number was then called and I was interviewed by Lord Marlborough who first said that my photograph is not good.
I told him that it a true likeness of me although I looked like an aging Marlon Brando. The problem he says is not in your face but the background. You see the background was blue and they wanted it in white.
If they said so in the first place in the application form, it would have helped everyone instead me running up and down Galle Road for a quick photo (it only said a recent photograph). Anyway there is a photographer who looks a smaller version of Mr. Faulty.
You pay and get your photograph. You go again to Lord Marlborough who says get a copy of the first page. (If they said so in the first place I would have by now by having my favourite pattie somewhere. I go to the photocopier and get it. Mind you have to pay for all these services.
I am now ushered to the MI 5 unit for the first time I see a lady who I can vouch is a British citizen and I got a feeling that you cannot trust anyone else to get your finger printed. Sri Lankans have always given a helping hand to fellowmen and they would have easily given a hand for a small fee. So you cannot trust anyone else other than a Brit to get sensitive information.
The man in front of me had weeping eczema on his finger and they have to repeat the procedure many times to get a good quality print.
I was next and the lady in attendance wiped the unit with a tissue saying that she was going to ask for gloves. Can't the Brits afford a small swab of alcohol for us to clean before putting your finger to the glass piece?
I was asked to wait till the Lord exchequer called me to pay the fees. There is no place which says the amount you have to pay. So applicants in future please take your cash in notes of Rs. 1000, 100, 10 and coins for cents 50, 25 to avoid having to beg for change. I was asked to come the next day at 4.00 p.m. for a 'situation position'.
I went the next day sharp at 4.00 and there were hundreds. Nobody other than the Speaker at the gate knew the procedure. From under a tree he kept calling about a dozen names. They were ushered in.
Another lot was called and then another. Finally the balance was sent in and we had to wait until our names were called. It is like waiting for your exam results. My name was called and I was handed over a huge white envelope.
I went out and opened and found only my passport but what happened to my original documents like the original bank statements and other documents etc. Anyway the consolation was that I had got a visa - Hurrah for now.
Not yet old boy. I have to produce the same information to another European Embassy. So here I go again in search of true copies.
It is still not over. When I land at Heathrow the pompous sentry with blue and white uniform will ask the same sort of questions that was asked at Duplication Road. Advise to passengers don't humour the men at the counter. The Brits at least those working at the airport have lost their humour.
Many years ago young Karl Marx said he was hoping to start a revolution. The British helped him and ushered him to the British Library to finish his work.
In fact they honoured him by burying him in London next to Lord Spencer (That was the beginning of Marx and Spencer - but that is another story).
If you say a similar thing now you will be handcuffed taken to the Lancaster Gate Police Station and you will be the Queens guest for an indefinite period. Perhaps you may be given a chance to watch the 50-over game between Sri Lanka and England in the company of some strange looking people but wearing similar clothes.
But once you get in, it is other greatest capital on earth but why do they make it so difficult for us.
Dear Old England - here I come.
D. M. FERNANDO, Dehiwela
The Revenue cheats, who made declarations under the Repeal of Inland Revenue (Special Provisions) Act No. 10 of 2003 and Act No. 31 of 2003 are in a soup.
They will have to bring into the treasury coffers a sum of Rs. 200 billions which, the so called trained officers of the revenue collecting departments had, upto that point of time, failed to collect, perhaps due to ignorance of the Revenue Laws, accounting practices and Information Technology of the Global Village or wilful negligence vis.; corruption or political pressure.
If the reasons for this sorry state of affairs, is the former, then the time has come to carry out a crash program to update the knowledge of the officers in the field of Information Technology, Auditing, Tax Law and modern accounting practices.
If the reasons are the latter then the independent P.S.C. and the Bribery and Corruption Commissions should play a pro-active role to surgically remove the cancer of politisation and corruption in the revenue services.
The afore-mentioned measures along with an attractive reward scheme, to informants, will prevent a slide back to the situation that prevailed prior to the granting of the above mentioned Amnesty.
Further, the names of those who had made declarations should be gazetted to ensure that the Commissioner General of Inland Revenue exercises his discretion, fairly and squarely, in respect of the declarants among whom are leading lights of all political parties and the Revenue Services.
STANLEY SILVA Moratuwa
On keen observation and notification of the public the work and activities and the responsibility of the above department seems to be very poor. They do not know the public who are going to get their work from this department undergoing great difficulties, the money and the time they waste on this work of getting their National Identity Card (NIC).
As claimed in the advertisements on different medias to the effect that the public can obtain the NIC in one day or with the help of the mobile service or if you apply through your area's Divisional Secretaries you can get it within a week or in a fortnight, seem only talk and advertisement only but not in action.
A person who does not know well of the office procedure and who does not know to write his language properly and do not convey his difficulties with the officers concerned properly and coming from long places like Trincomalee, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ampara, Batticaloa with their assistants who know all languages and who can easily explain the difficulties, the delays of the work etc. to the officers concerned are being prohibited at the main entrance gate of this Registrar of Persons Department at the Keppetipola Mawatha Office in Colombo.
There are many shortcomings, particularly if the applicant is conversant only in Tamil.
I hope some action will be initiated to overcome these to provide NICs expeditiously.
Produced by Lake House