May 17, 2022

There is money if Ranil is bold enough to tax the rich - Kusal

If Ranil Wickramasinghe is bold enough to lay his hands on areas that have real money and cut down on not so essential public expenses, the Treasury can collect substantial revenue, says Kusal Perera, a senior journalist and political analyst.  

PM Wickramasinghe addressing the nation on 16 May said the Treasury has no money to pay off service providers and has not paid health sector service providers for the last 04 months. He also said the Treasury is unable to find even a million dollars now.

Now PM Wickramasinghe should start taxing the “rich 20 percent” in this economy, no matter how they fund political parties, stressed political analyst Perera, proposing the government should immediately slap a “one time tax” of Rs.05 million from luxury vehicles used for private commuting with a mileage of less than 06 kms per litre of petrol or with an engine capacity of 2000 cc. They simply guzzle about three times the quantity an ordinary vehicle use, he said and added “Its scarce dollars they waste”. Kusal Perera also proposed to raise annual revenue tax on vehicles not used for public commuting and transport of goods, by 50 percent for vehicles with engines above 1000 cc and 100 percent increase for vehicles with engines above 2000 cc.

Another option proposed is taxing Specialist medical doctors on their channeling incomes separately, that is often spoken of as going without proper declarations. It is therefore proposed to levy an emergency tax of 03 percent from every 10 patients channeled. This can be collected from channeling centres themselves.

Apart from reaching out to new areas for revenue, another is to cut back on unnecessary and wasteful expenses instead of restricting public welfare, was Perera’s other option. He proposed suspending all allowances paid to MPs other than their salary and fuel allowance. Their personal staff should also be restricted to a single Private Secretary. Stressing on that he says, Ministers should not be paid more than a MP and their personal staff should be restricted to a Private Secretary and a Media Co-ordinator. Also, he said food subsidies in parliament restaurants should be removed completely.

Proposing further public spending cuts, Perera said the Disturbance, Availability and Transport (DAT) allowance of Rs,50,000 per month paid to government medical doctors should be suspended forthwith. Explaining that government medical doctors are paid overtime even when they do not record their attendance and are also paid mobile phone, travelling and other allowances, DAT he said is massive waste of public money that totals around Rs.9,600 million a year, if 16,000 out of 17,300 medical doctors work in hospitals.

Lastly, he said another saving should be from the defense budget that was annually increased even after the war was concluded in 2009 May. It was Rs.177.1 billion in 2009 and has risen to Rs.373 billion this year (2022).

“Will PM Ranil Wickramasinghe be bold enough to cut back on such wasteful public spending and lay his hands on the top 20 percent of the population that enjoys over 45 percent of the national annual income?” asked journalist and political analyst Kusal Perera. “If he would, then he could present the welfare budget he said would in his address to the nation,” said Perera.