Namal Questions Casino Tax: Says Salary Hike Fuel Price Reduction “Unsustainable”

February 07, 2015

UPFA Parliamentarian and the former President’s son Namal Rajapaksa has said fuel price reductions and salary hikes given to the state sector workers by the interim budget of the new government are “unsustainable”

Although Rajapaksa voted in favour of the new government, the Parliament, in a blog post, said this evening that he voted for the budget with reluctance.

“Consider, for example, the reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, LP gas, and kerosene. Fuel reductions are generally welcome measures. However, though it would appear to be an immediate relief to the public, the extent of the reduction in fuel prices, unfortunately, are unlikely to be sustainable in the long run and could have an immensely negative impact on the overall economy. Even though global oil prices were low at the time the present Government decreased fuel prices, this past week, crude prices have seen a marked increase. How sustainable this price reduction will be is the concern. While it may be easy to please the public in the short-term with such measures, such ad-hoc decisions are more likely to have a negative long-term impact on the country’s economy and thus the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.,” Rajapaksa said.

“Another concern is the extent to which the Government has decided to increase salaries. We agree in principle with the need to increase salaries. In fact, it was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who first proposed the increase of salaries and pensions in the 2015 National Budget that he presented last year. However, the new administration has amplified the salary hike to a level that will not be sustainable, once again,” he also added.

The Parliamentarian also posed some questions on the Casino tax as well.

“There is the Rs. 1 billion tax imposed on casinos and sports-related television channels. How was this taxation amount decided? What is the basis? While we completely agree with imposing any amount of tax on casinos, what is the logic behind imposing the same tax on types of businesses that generate vastly different ranges of profit? Furthermore, doesn’t the imposition of taxes on casinos imply regulation of that industry? Didn’t this administration propose the shutting down of all casinos in the country?” he asked.

However, the Parliamentarian also stated that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had taken a decision to vote for the interim budget presented by the new Government.

“In the interest of maintaining the integrity and unity of the Party, I have decided to stand with the Party decision. However, I do so with reluctance because of concerns I have about the unsustainable nature of the proposals that have been presented,” he added.


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