Business Times

Govt. killing entrepreneurship spirit with unfair tax policies

By Quintus Perera

Some unfair and somewhat ‘silly’ policies of the government is deterring entrepreneurship with one young entrepreneur forced to wind up his business after the tax authorities went after him, a top official said this week.

Patrick Amarasinghe, President, Young Entrepreneurs – Sri Lanka (YESL), told the Business Times on the sidelines of a corporate event in Colombo, that though their efforts are to motivate employment even to a part of the five million eligible youth in the country, some policies of the government are silly and ridiculous and often just kill the “goose that lays the golden eggs.”

He said an Advanced Level student from Polonnaruwa Royal College who started a company under YESL programmes with Rs 4,000 borrowed from his father to purchase, pack and sell tea was shocked to receive papers to pay income tax from the Tax Department (Business Times revelation on 15/8/2010). The student was in fact subsequently taxed Rs 300 by the Provincial tax authorities. “This is treble shock and the student is now contemplating to wind up his company,” he said.

Mr Amarasinghe pointed out that the government is offering 10-year tax holidays to foreign and local companies operating under BOI while educated and enterprising youth are pushed out by some of the ridiculous policies of the authorities. He said that the government should immediately change these disparaging policies and offer special concessions to at least the school children who undertake entrepreneurial ventures which are under strict supervision by the school heads and supervised, monitored and provided with essential know-how by YESL.

He said that the government also should consider various concessions for micro and small entrepreneurs and said that YESL is prepared to work jointly with the appropriate authorities in providing job opportunities through entrepreneurial skills of school children which he said if properly planned could solve the youth unemployment problem drastically where the students learn everything at grassroots level upwards. At the same event, Nick Nicolaou, CEO, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Sri Lanka and Maldives, said financial institutions should come forward in helping to integrate youth from disadvantaged backgrounds into society to improve the quality of their lives and to become fully active in society.

Speaking as Chief Guest at the Talents and Achievers Awards 2010 under HSBC Programme of “Future First 2010” for school children held in Colombo and organized by YESL, sponsored by HSBC and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, he said that ‘Future First’ programme initiated by the HSBC Global Education Trust has made a significant impact in many marginalized and impoverished members of the society in many countries they operate.

YESL President Mr Amarasinghe said that being a foreign bank, HSBC’s involvement in the programme is remarkable and the programme is held for the third consecutive year. He said the progress of this HSBC global programe held in partnership with Junior Achievers (JA) Worldwide and YESL encourages them. This programme benefits thousands of students in 10 schools in the country, he said.

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