President to present relief and development oriented
Chambers seek simple tax formula From the Business Desk
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Finance Minister will
present a relief and development oriented budget today. The Daily News
Business spoke to several Chamber leaders representing different
industries to find out what they expect from the budget.
Lal de Alwis
The National Chamber of Commerce President Lal de Alwis said they
have proposed to take into consideration the significance of agriculture
in the country's economy and to make agriculture undertakings free of
income tax for a further period of a minimum of five years.
The Chamber also proposes to remove import duty of hybrid maize
seeds, soya bean seeds, sunflower seeds and palm oil seeds used as
planting material when such planting materials are not locally available
in sufficient quantities.
"We request the Government to provide low interest loans through the
Central Bank to manufacture specific packing material locally for fruits
and vegetables to minimize losses," he said.
The Chamber proposes to simplify the tax system by reducing the
number of taxes and adopting simple calculation methods that could be
understood by the average citizen.
Sarath de Silva
National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka President Sarath de Silva
said the Government needs to extend the fertilizer subsidy to vegetable,
fruits and other crop cultivations.
"We request the authorities to remove existing barriers to use these
lands for cultivation purposes. We need to remove all barriers that
hamper the potential of local investors while giving them due
recognition and prioritizing local investments in the future," he said.
"We have also requested from the authorities to remove the high
electricity tariffs, which is an impediment for the local exporters when
they compete with international players engaged in manufacturing rubber,
tyre, ceramic and other products," he said.
"Public banks need to take high equity in local agro products, as the
country needs to become an agro economic country to get the fullest
advantages in the agricultural industry".
Ceylon National Chamber of Industries CNCI Chairman Sunil Liyanage
said they expect mainly macro economic and fiscal policies for economic
development from this budget.
He expects new policies will be introduced towards this end and make
them consistent for the next five years.
"Then only long-term investors specially industrialists will be able
to get their return on investment," he said.
He said CNCI likes to see policies and tariff taxation remaining for
five years and not for one year.
Multiplicity of taxation was also expected as the present tax system
is highly complicated. He hoped proposals made by the CNCI will be
implemented. Sectorial development with technology, R and D was another
expectation of the CNCI.
Joint Apparel Association Forum Secretary General Rohan Masakorala
said measures that would eliminate delays and unwanted systems was
The laws should be supportive and need to increase efficiency. The
laws should encourage Sri Lanka to achieve as a hub in the region. The
implementation of e-
commerce, a better tax structure and the five-year comprehensive plan
are important in this regard.
Proper reforms and modernizations are necessary if the country to
become a high-end apparel destination.
The shipping sector in the country is progressing well.
However, the sector too needs reforms in Customs and port procedures.
The Government needs to focus on human capital investment. More
attention is needed on training and developing a human resource pool to
deliver results, he said.
Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka President Surath
Wickramasinghe said the construction industry should have accessibility
to funds. There is a need for an infrastructure fund.
The industrialists need to be given BOI concessions. These
concessions should be given to both local and foreign investors who are
willing to invest around US $ 10 million. Measures should be taken to
stimulate the stalled property development projects and special
incentives to facilitate the disposal of apartments.
"The payment of single service levy by the investor needs be
considered. Research and development should be made an allowable
expense. The tax incentives should not be withdrawn until a mega project
is completed, he said.
SLASSCOM General Secretary Madu Ratnayake said the Government needs
to pay more attention on brand building in the IT and BPO industry to
reap economic benefits whilst achieving due recognition for the
Priority should be given to expand the capacity building in the IT
and BPO industry giving concessions, financial assistance and expertise
to universities and relevant educational institutions to initiate
relevant programs and projects to make this objective a success.
"An appropriate tax regime should also be introduced for the IT and
BPO industry to be more competitive in the international IT and BPO
industry," Ratanayake said.
Women's Chamber of Industries and Commerce (WCIC) Chairperson Vidyani
Hettigoda said that they expect the budget would be encouraging and
supportive especially to develop business and promote industries where
women entrepreneurs are involved.
"We hope this year's budget would create more business leading women
in Sri Lanka. Women entrepreneurs play a key role in contributing
immensely to the country's economy," she said.
At present the majority of the population in Sri Lanka are women.
Therefore, we believe and trust that this budget will support and
encourage women starting business from micro level.
Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Anura
Lokuhetti said President Mahinda Rajapaksa has identified tourism
industry as a major thrust industry for the development of economic
activities of Sri Lanka.
"We are optimistic that the Government will introduce uniform track
systems for the betterment of the industry.
The hoteliers expect this budget will at least introduce some major
tax incentives to attract more investments to build 15,000 additional
rooms to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016," he said.
In achieving 2.5 million tourist arrivals, foreign exchange revenue
will accomplish around US $ three billion while creating 200,000 direct
"The World Travel Mart in London was a clear indication for a major
growth in tourist arrivals in the current winter period", Lokuhetti
The Leather Advisory Council will be looking forward in further
reduction of taxes and the results of the taxation commission after the
budget, Leather Footwear Advisory Council Chairman Rangith
"The industry should improve in terms of competitiveness to meet the
standards of the export market.
There should be an improvement in the technical knowledge, product
development and creation of various avenues for the private sector to
deliver a higher productivity," Hettiarachchy said.
The Gem and Jewellery industry is anticipating duty waivers or
reduction for importation of tools, machinery and equipments for the
lapidary and manufacturing industry, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery
Association Secretary Ziqufi Ismail said.
He said several proposals have been submitted to the Government for
consideration which he hoped will be considered favourably at the
“We have proposed to consider the renewal of NBT while liberalizing
trade on import and export of gem trade. We have also requested the
Government to liberalize the foreign exchange policy for the import of
raw materials to cut and polish gemstones and rough gems,” Ismail said.
Spices and Allied Products Producers’ and Traders’ Association
Chairman Christopher Fernando said the action need to be taken to stop
pilfering of agriculture products and for a subsidy scheme for
re-planting and new plantings.
It is important to provide financial assistance for the producers and
exporters to encourage them to perform well.
“The industry needs longer tax holidays, investment relief and an
attractive subsidy scheme to ensure low cost of production. They request
to re-activate the export rewards scheme for the benefit for the
industrialists,” he said.
“The cess imposed on importation of export oriented raw material,
machinery and equipment should be withdrawn. These will help the spice
industry to be a major contributor in foreign exchange generation,” he