Inland Revenue Dept’s Rs.9bn project threatening to “shutdown” due to computer issues?

Inland Revenue Dept’s Rs.9bn project threatening to “shutdown” due to computer issues?

By Keshala Dias

11 Apr, 2017 | 9:30 pm

Trade Unions allege that a Rs. 9 billion project undertaken by the Inland Revenue Department is facing problems with execution.

They charge that the Treasury is yet to provide sufficient computers to enable the implementation of this project.

Several years ago, the Inland Revenue Department decided to revolutionise tax culture in Sri Lanka through a project that would manage revenue and information through a computerised system.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Government of Singapore.

Inland Revenue personnel were sent to Singapore in batches for the special training required for the smooth implmentation of the system.

Trade unions say that it was planned to use the system, which cost Rs. 9 billion, from this year, 2017.

However, the Treasury is yet to give the officials the computers that are required.

H.L. Udayasiri, Convener, Inland Revenue Trade Unions Joint Committee)speaking on the matter said:

[quote]”The Treasury was informed in 2016 that there was a requirement to purchase 500 computers and another 500 computers for 2017. However, we are yet to be provided with the 1,000 computers. In this backdrop, the personnel at the Inland Revenue Department have found it impossible to execute their duties using the computerised system. These facilities are required. If not we cannot reach our expected revenue goals. That is why it is of paramount importance that they provide these computers to the Department immediately, failing which the process will come to a standstill”.[/quote]

Meanwhile, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, responded to allegations from trade unions at the Inland Revenue Department to the effect that it has become impossible to implement tax amendments as the necessary Legislation has not been adopted in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, State Minister of Finance, speaking on the subject said:

[quote]”The procedure that was followed was that a newspaper advertisement would be published informing when the tax amendment would come into effect. Court has ruled that until the gazette and the newspaper advertisement is published, these cannot be enforced and can only be done after the Act is passed. However, it does not mean that tax cannot be collected under the previous procedure. That is still in effect. Taxes will be collected in accordance with that Act. After the new Act comes in to force, taxes will be collected according to that. There is nothing special whatsoever. There are advantages and disadvantages. For example, the tax for the hospitality sector was increased from 12% to 28%. Some areas have seen concessions. There will be no issue in tax collection”.[/quote]

The State Minister of Finance also responded to allegations regarding amendments to the Inland Revenue Act.

Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena (State Minister of Finance): [quote]”We have held discussions with the most experienced Commissioners at the Department of Inland Revenue. My personal view is that we must amend the existing Inland Revenue Act as it is outdated. However, the amendments must not harm certain persons as well as the Department. That is the stance of the President. The President made it clear that when there are amendments, the respective trade unions must also be consulted. We have an aim to increase revenue to 20% of GDP. If not we cannot take the country forward”.[/quote]