For when there are changes in customs levies or statutory taxes, proper and timely information should be given to the public for the following purposes:
(1) For due compliance.
(2) To make representations if there are any adverse effects.
(3) To change prices, invoices etc.
(4) To avoid penalty, red notices etc. for non-compliance, which result in embarrassment.
Our literacy rate is high and we must admit that people gather first hand information from the newspapers. Therefore, it is the duty of the relevant authority to provide such information to the public
I am surprised to hear that the Provincial Councils will be increasing their turnover tax rate from 1% to 5% for some items effective 1.4.2005. Provincial council rates are not announced at the Budget proposals annually. Therefore, it is very important that any change in the rates should be conveyed to the public through the media.
In fact a gazette notification has been issued on 15.12.2004 pertaining to the increase from 1% to 5%. They have fulfilled the statutory obligation only. However, you will admit that only a very small percentage of the pubic will get the opportunity of reading the gazette. On the other hand if it was a press notification then more people would have the opportunity to see it.
The following steps should have been taken by the Provincial Councils in this regard-.
(1) Proper publicity in the newspapers stating the relevant gazette notification.
(2) Brief announcements on Radio and TV.
(3) Issue of circulars to the Trade Chambers with request to advise their members.
(4) Issue of circulars to the tax payers when forwarding the Annual Returns.
The intention of this article is not to criticise the relevant authorities, but only seek their assistance and to ensure a better understanding is maintained with the public at large for due compliance of statutory requirements.
S. R. Balachandran,
The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka