By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The government has pledged it will revisit and amend Sri Lanka’s old and archaic legislation, which continues to stand in the way of the business community, reducing its pace of making any progress.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera assured that with the government formulating its strategies in a manner that would “ease the economic burden of the people”, they are in the process of creating a “conducive and rule-based business atmosphere” for the business community of the country. “The business community of this country will make great strides if we, together, can eliminate some of these complex and confusing legal regimes,” said the minister in his address at the 27th annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners’ Association held recently.
He added that the “immediate wish” of the government is to overhaul some of the archaic legislatives and have them replaced with “modern and immensely friendly” laws.
It was only recently that the country saw the introduction of a comprehensive taxation law in parliament, which is expected to come into effect by April 2018. It is noted that over 60 percent of the legislation in the country are over 50 years old.
This includes key laws such as the Custom Ordinance that was enacted in 1860, Excise Ordinance drafted in 1911 and also the Education Act that was drafted in 1944. Other than a few minor amendments, these legislations that play a pivotal role in economic development have remained largely unchanged and untouched.
It was acknowledged that the current legal frameworks act as a hurdle as they are of no relevance to the present-day business climate and environment.
Samaraweera shared that the reason for the “relook” is due to the government wanting to value the hard work, entrepreneurial skills and dedication of the business community and ensure they grow in the competitive global environment.
“Our government is prepared to take stock of these issues with an open mind for economic prosperity of Sri Lankan, based on the principles of a social market economy,” he said, while stressing that greater emphasis is paid of showcasing to the world how “serious” the island nation is about business and that it conducts itself according to accepted norms and values.
The minister also said the upcoming budget 2018 that will be presented on November 9 will fast-track the liberalization process required to transform Sri Lanka into a modern, dynamic, market economy.