Sirikotha dodges MC rates,taxes for last two years - Kotte MC Deputy Mayor

Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte Municipal Council (MC) Deputy Mayor Premalal Athukorala yesterday revealed that Sirikotha; the party headquarters of the United National Party had not paid its rates and taxes for the last two years.

He was addressing the Council during the first reading of the Kotte MC Budget for 2019. The Budget was passed with a majority of 22 voting for (SLPP and UPFA), one SLPP member Samitha Imaduwa abstained, three opposed (JVP) and 11 members of the UNP walked out in protest prior to the vote being taken. One member of the UNP was absent during the sessions yesterday.

According to sources within the Municipal Council, the Sirikotha building located at No 400, E.W. Perera Mawatha, valued at Rs 1,472,463 owed the local government body Rs.371,060.68 as of December 31, 2018.

Municipal Council officials complained that they had sent Sirikotha several letters on the matter but they are yet to pay their rates and taxes.

Kotte MC Mayor, Attorney-at-Law Madura Vithanage making his maiden Budget speech yesterday noted that the MC has over the years faced issues of low revenue due to problems in recovering the rates and taxes that are due.

JVP member Yudheeshdeera Arosha addressing council pointed out that close to 10-15 percent of expected revenue was not met each year as a result of the MC not having a proper mechanism to collect what is due.

Further, he pointed out that the property belonging to the Kotte MC had not been assessed since 2008 and thus they were not benefitting from the rise in property values in the last 10 years.

The Budget statement made by the Mayor showed that a revenue of Rs.1,441,229,000 was expected in 2019 - with Rs. 1,232,122,000 being recurrent revenue.

In addition, a sum of Rs 109,000,000 is expected to be taken out as loans in 2019.The total expenditure for 2019 is estimated to be Rs 1,088, 293,000. Of this, capital expenditure is estimated at Rs.352,093,000 and Rs.1,424,860,00 has been allocated for loan repayments. The Mayor further stated that he expected to have a Budget surplus of Rs.843,000 next year.

Opposition members questioned as to why the estimated revenue had reduced next year compared to this. In 2018, estimated revenue stood at Rs.1,897,895,000- Rs.456 million more than next year.

SLPP Member Samantha Janaka Peiris pointed out that they would need a better tax collection system, procedures and increase the efficiency of the staff to increase revenue.

UNP Member Chandima Nayanajith in the meantime said the MC had wasted funds building shopping complexes like Jana Jaya City, the Pitakotte shopping centre and the Nugegoda Multipurpose building instead of investing in the basic necessities of the people, “The loans that we have to bear as a result are exorbitant”.

Former Mayor and UPFA member Janaka Ranawaka under whose tenure Jana Jaya City was built in defended it stating that it was necessary for the MC to dream big if they are to earn more revenue. He estimated that the car parking facilities and rent from the Jana Jaya City could earn the MC a revenue of Rs.50 million per year - making it possible for them to recover the total construction cost of Rs 600 million and loan of Rs 325 million. 

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