If Ranil Wickramasinghe is bold enough to lay hishands on areas that have real money and cut down on not so essential publicexpenses, the Treasury can collect substantial revenue, says Kusal Perera, asenior journalist and political analyst.
PM Wickramasinghe addressing the nation on 16 May saidthe Treasury has no money to pay off service providers and has not paid healthsector service providers for the last 04 months.
He also said the Treasury isunable to find even a million dollars now. Now PM Wickramasinghe should start taxing the “rich 20percent” in this economy, no matter how they fund political parties, stressedpolitical analyst Perera, proposing the government should immediately slap a “onetime tax” of Rs.05 million from luxury vehicles used for private commuting witha mileage of less than 06 kms per litre of petrol or with an engine capacity of2000 cc.
They simply guzzle about three times the quantity an ordinary vehicleuse, he said and added “Its scarce dollars they waste”.
Kusal Perera also proposedto raise annual revenue tax on vehicles not used for public commuting andtransport of goods, by 50 percent for vehicles with engines above 1000 cc and 100percent increase for vehicles with engines above 2000 cc. Another option proposed is taxing Specialist medicaldoctors on their channeling incomes separately, that is often spoken of asgoing without proper declarations.
It is therefore proposed to levy anemergency tax of 03 percent from every 10 patients channeled. This can becollected from channeling centres themselves. Apart from reaching out to new areas for revenue,another is to cut back on unnecessary and wasteful expenses instead ofrestricting public welfare, was Perera’s other option.
He proposed suspendingall allowances paid to MPs other than their salary and fuel allowance. Theirpersonal staff should also be restricted to a single Private Secretary.Stressing on that he says, Ministers should not be paid more than a MP and theirpersonal staff should be restricted to a Private Secretary and a MediaCo-ordinator. Also, he said food subsidies in parliament restaurants should beremoved completely.
Proposing further public spending cuts, Perera saidthe Disturbance, Availability and Transport (DAT) allowance of Rs,50,000 permonth paid to government medical doctors should be suspended forthwith.Explaining that government medical doctors are paid overtime even when they donot record their attendance and are also paid mobile phone, travelling andother allowances, DAT he said is massive waste of public money that totals aroundRs.9,600 million a year, if 16,000 out of 17,300 medical doctors work in hospitals.
Lastly, he said another saving should be from thedefense budget that was annually increased even after the war was concluded in2009 May. It was Rs.177.1 billion in 2009 and has risen to Rs.373 billion thisyear (2022).
“Will PM RanilWickramasinghe be bold enough to cut back on such wasteful public spending andlay his hands on the top 20 percent of the population that enjoys over 45percent of the national annual income?” asked journalist and political analystKusal Perera. “If he would, then he could present the welfare budget he saidwould in his address to the nation,” said Perera.