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‘Tax revenue should benefit underprivileged’

State Minister Eran Wickramaratne addressing the gathering. Picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA.

Finance State Minister Eran Wickramarathne said persons with high incomes should be taxed and the tax revenue should benefit the poor.

Under the new tax, those who earn Rs.100,000 per month is exempted from income tax and those who earn Rs.150,000 per month has to pay a Rs. 6,000 income tax.

He was addressing councillors of the 18 local government bodies in the Matara district last Saturday.

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera convened the meeting to motivate the newly appointed councillors.

“We overthrew the former regime in 2015 by telling the people that we were capable of developing the country. Politics is a marathon. Many fail considering it a 100 metre distance. Then they ruin their political future and of those who elected them,” State Minister Wickramarathne said.

The State Minister said that like any household, a government undergoes a deficit between income and expenditure. Any housewife knows this situation, he said. The deficit is measured as a percentage of the GNP and is usually about seven percent. Taxes are imposed to reduce the deficit, he said. “The important question is who should be taxed and to benefit whom?”

The taxed money is used for education, health services and to provide other basic essentials to low income groups, he said.

The State Minister said the UNP would win the next Presidential Election. “Winning the election is a brain game,” he said.

"The government reduced the prices of 48 essential medicines and removed the ceiling on medication for cancer patients. A research institute was established for kidney patients. Heart surgery is performed for free at government hospitals, while a subsidy of up to 75 percent is provided for surgeries done at private hospitals. Upgrading rural schools under the ‘closest school is the best school’ programme and allocating Rs. 24 billion to provide hostel facilities for university students are some we carried out in this regard,," he said.

“The government should take care of its senior citizens,” he said.

The State Minister said those who receive high income benefit the most from government subsidies. “It is unfair,” he said

Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera and former Matara Mayor Upul Nishantha Subawickrema addressed the gathering.