New Customs Ordinance to be introduced: Mangala

The government plans to introduce a new Customs Ordinance to replace the 200 year old one to achieve our goal of making the county a global trading hub, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.

The Minister also said the government is in the process of updating the laws in other related areas.

“We are in the final stage of introducing a new Inland Revenue Act which is to be presented in Parliament next Wednesday,” he said.“This is a major positive reform for domestic revenue collection,” Minister Samaraweera said.

“In similar vein, we will be looking at the other key institutions with the objective of raising our revenues significantly in the next few years,”Minister Samaraweera said.

Minister Samaraweera was speaking at the ground breaking ceremony for setting up a New Container Scanning System for the Sri Lanka Customs.

The ceremony was held at the Colombo Port premises.

He said further that the government’s main aim is to further integrate Sri Lanka into the global economy as a vibrant trading nation.

Minister Samaraweera added that the role of the Sri Lanka Customs has become more important as a facilitator of trade, securing of borders and as a key revenue collector.

“Technology plays a crucial role in driving the efficiency and efficacy of the function of the Sri Lanka Customs,” Minister Samaraweera said.

“The new Container Scanning System will help reduce time taken for cargo inspection and enable a more robust approach to Customs procedures. This will no doubt help trade facilitation and address the scourge of smuggling which had been a drain of state revenues and a threat to the safety and the country’s security,”Minister Samaraweera said.

The Minister also said that the government also should take a more holistic approach to modernisation of this institution as a whole.

Minister Samaraweera added that the prevailing legislation is almost 200 years old which is based on 1869 Customs Ordinance.

He also said that it has become more complex now with numerous amendments,and added that the same law has not been updated in keeping changing global trends.

“Therefore, one of my key objectives is to ensure that all related agencies should be brought under a state of art legislative framework. Now we are in the process of updating the laws in other areas as well,” Minister Samaraweera said.

The Minister also said the setting up of the new scanning system signifies the modernisation of our institutions. He added that the government is committed to continuing this journey by introducing reforms to these institutions, specially with greater vigour after the budget in November.

Customs Director General Chulananda Perera said the Customs had so far been dealing with individual cases. “But, I am a firm believer of having an overall scanning mechanism to screen all,” he said. “The commencement of this project today would be a great boos to,” Perera said.

However,around 1100 containers arrive while around 400 leave the country daily of which only 5 percent is screened due to the lack of facilities. With the introduction of the new Container Scanning System, all containers would be able to be screened.

Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Treasury Secretary S.R.Artigala were also present.

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