The Committee on Public Finance questioned the officials representing the Ministry of Finance regarding the action taken to recover the loss incurred by the Sugar Tax Scam in Sri Lanka.
The Committee expressed its displeasure as the Ministry of Finance has failed to take action in this regard as yet.
The matter arose at the Committee on Public Finance held recently (08) in Parliament under the Chairmanship of the protem Chair Patali Champika Ranawaka, in the absence of its Chair Dr. Harsha de Silva.
The Committee questioned as to why the Inland Revenue Department in consultation with the Attorney General has not yet taken action on this regard. Accordingly, officials representing the Ministry of Finance stated that they have been updating the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) regarding the progress and that the Attorney General’s Department has advised that as there was a case pending on this regard, proceeding forth would follow post the determination.
The Committee then inquired whether action could be instituted if the relevant parties withdrew the pending case in court. Accordingly, the Committee requested the Attorney General’s Department to have the Committee informed regarding the stated concern with immediate effect.
The Committee also raised concerns over the failure of the Ministry of Finance to have the Committee informed regarding the issues raised previously pertaining to the Regulations published in the Gazette issued under the Regulations under the Imports and Exports Controls Act on wheat flour.
Furthermore, the Regulations under the Imports and Exports Control Act, No. 1 of 1969, published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2336/45 which was presented to Parliament on 18.07.2023 taken up at the Committee on Public Finance dated 21.07.2023, was also taken up for discussion. The protem Chair Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka stated that unless the order process of wheat flour has begun, license for the importation of wheat flour is restricted and the present context has created a flour duopoly. The Committee inquired the action and progress on this regard.
Moreover, the Committee took into Consideration the Appropriation (Amendment) Bill 2023 and was approved by the Committee. The borrowing limit of Rs.4,979 billion has been increased to Rs. 13,979 billion under the Appropriation Act No. 43 of 2022. Accordingly, 9,000 billion rupees for re-issuance of debt ceiling needs has been revised. As a provision to the Department of Treasury Operations for repayment of loans Rs. 4,222.23 billion to Rs. 13,222.23 billion expenditure limits will be increased by amending sub-section 2 (4) of the Act and the Second Schedule.