Committee on Public Finance approves Rs. 1,000 billion Treasury Bills issue

Parliament of Sri Lanka

The Committee on Public Finance granted approval yesterday (June 21) to issue Rs. 1,000 billion Treasury Bills, under the Local Treasury Bills Ordinance which is scheduled to be presented to Parliament for approval by the Minister of Finance.

The Committee on Public Finance chaired by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa met yesterday in Parliament. Government officials were connected online for the meeting in accordance with health regulations given the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha and Members of Parliament Dilan Perera, Prof. Ranjith Bandara, Mujibur Rahuman, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Anupa Pasqual, Isuru Dodangoda, Nalin Fernando were present at the Committee meeting held.

Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle, expressing his views stated that an increase to Rs 3,000 billion from the current limit of Rs. 2000 billion is thus expected.

He further said that this does not imply that the money will be spent within the coming 06 months and that everything will be managed within the borrowing limit approved by the Parliament.

The Committee also approved two regulations to be tabled in Parliament under the, No. 1 of 1969 Imports and Exports (Control) Act presented to Parliament on 08.06.2021.

Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance further stated that given the context where tax relief has been granted for imported vehicles under the category of special purpose vehicles, this opportunity given is often misused.

The Secretary pointed out that the Government incurred a great loss in terms of tax revenue as it has now been identified that vehicles imported under the category of special purpose vehicles are being used as ordinary purpose vehicles.

He further explained that last year alone, 947 freezer trucks were imported and that it has been reported that most of the imported freezer trucks remove the refrigerators after importation and use them as ordinary lorries. Accordingly, steps have been taken to revise the relevant taxes by these regulations.

Expressing views, Parliamentarian Nalin Fernando stated that a situation of tax evasion on technical matters pertaining to the margarine importation has also risen. The Secretary to the Ministry of Finance told the Committee that this is expected to be done in the future under a new methodology.

Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva, inquired from the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance regarding a statement made by the Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila regarding the notion that the country is currently in an economic crisis. Responding to it, the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance stated that despite certain economic concerns that may arise given the current situation, every effort will be made to manage such concerns properly.

Further, the proposal to increase the salaries and allowances of the members including the Chairman of the Office of the Missing Persons which was rejected at the last Committee meeting was approved at the Committee meeting held yesterday after taking all factors into consideration.