Import taxes are critical for government revenue. However, these taxes are often high and prevent businesses from becoming more efficient – businesses sometimes have to pay up to five different taxes when importing essential materials and products. The government has introduced a solution to this problem – import tax exemption schemes. Through these schemes, businesses can bypass certain taxes and save money. Yet, the solution is not as simple as it seems. The current regulatory framework in place for tax exemptions undermines the objective of such schemes – which is to prevent misuse and restrict benefits to eligible parties. Using agricultural equipment as an example, this policy note outlines how the process in place for approving exemptions is (i) opaque; (ii) discretionary; and (iii) prone to abuse.
Verité Research and the World Bank developed a methodology to monitor online proactive disclosure of information, in accordance with the RTI Act. Verité Research then used this methodology to monitor and evaluate the online proactive disclosure of information across 55 public authorities in Sri Lanka. The report found that 20% of public authorities scored in the ‘moderately satisfactory’ band. The majority, 75% of public authorities scored within the ‘moderately unsatisfactory’ band and 5% scored ‘unsatisfactory’. No authority scored ‘satisfactory’ or ‘highly satisfactory’.
Export promotion has been a key policy objective of successive governments of Sri Lanka. The Government aims to double the value of exports to USD 20 billion by 2020. Currently, the government is taking measures to improve the investment climate and ease the bureaucratic burden for the private sector; investors and businesses. One such bureaucratic hindrance is the export registration process. This policy note finds that although the current registration process was introduced with the intention of identifying and supporting new exporters, its execution severely impedes the achievement of this goal.
Despite an increasing number of natural disasters in recent years, Sri Lanka suffers from a limited uptake of natural disaster insurance coverage. Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are especially vulnerable to the impact of such disasters. While there are many factors that contribute to the limited use of natural disaster insurance in Sri Lanka, our policy note identifies the lack of accessible information, especially in the vernacular, to be one of the primary causes. Our findings revealed that information on natural disaster insurance is provided almost exclusively in English by private insurance companies as well as state provided welfare schemes. Given that the areas affected by natural disasters outside Colombo have an English literacy rate below 30%, provisions of such information in the vernacular can significantly help SMEs tap into the benefits of natural disaster insurance.
There are three false claims that have been prevalent in print media, in relation to the tax and price increases of cigarettes in the last quarter of 2016. The claims were that (i) tax revenue reduced, (ii) beedi consumption increased, and (iii) CTC lost economic value. The Insight provides analysis that contests all three claims.
Sri Lanka is a signatory to the International Treaty, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since 2003. It has not yet implemented the provisions relating to protecting tobacco policy from vested interests. This Insight explores the consequences of not doing so and meaningful steps that can be taken towards mitigating the influence of vested interests.
Analysis of past tax and price data reveals two aspects of cigarette pricing that are hidden from media reporting: first, net-of-tax price grew at a faster rate than the tax per cigarette; second, that the government’s tax share of the cigarette price has fallen over time.