The minister claims (a) there are nearly 1,000 tax files registered with the Department of Inland Revenue (IRD), and (b) there are over 10 million credit cards in issue in the country, with each credit card holder performing transactions of over Rs. 1 million. FactCheck.lk interpreted the minister’s statement in context as referring to the value of transactions per annum per credit card rather than the combined annual transactions on all credit cards held by an average credit card holder.
To evaluate this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the IRD and Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL).
On claim (a), according to the IRD Annual Performance Report for 2019, the total number of registered taxpayers amounted to 1,705,233 (see Exhibit 1). Even if the minister was referring to only individuals and employees who pay tax (and not corporates and other bodies), they each substantially exceed the minister’s claim of 1,000 (Exhibit 1).
On claim (b), according to CBSL Payments Bulletin for 2021Q2, the total number of credit cards in issue were 2,045,716, or only about 20% of what the minister claims. The total value of credit card transactions for 2020 was Rs. 221.8 billion.
The average annual transactions value per credit card was Rs. 111,765. This figure is hugely less than the claim of Rs 1 to 1.5 million.
On all the claims: the number of credit cards, the number of tax files and transaction value per card, the minister figures are grossly exaggerated. Therefore, we classify his statement as BLATANTLY FALSE.
**FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Source: Annual performance report 2019, Inland Revenue Department
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Statement on infographic: There are nearly 1,000 tax files in our country. There are over 10 million credit cards in our country. Each credit card holder does transactions of nearly Rs. 1 million to 1.5 million.
Source and date: Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Sunday Observer, 12 September 2021
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