Letters to the Editor


When compassion, and tolerance were blown up
I am not a scholar, just a Buddhist, who is deeply shocked over what happened at the Bollywood show on December 11. Buddhists have never waged war over their religion or religious leaders. Buddhism is a religion which glorifies compassion, tolerance, non-violence and intellectual freedom.

It is evident that a certain group of fundamentalists, who claim to be the saviours of Buddhism, were involved in this bloody mayhem. The consequences were tragic, as it cost two young lives. These fundamentalists demanded public attention by pushing their campaign to extremes, even after the organizers apologised and explained that they meant no disrespect. It is sad that they didn't know that public attention cannot be demanded but is only bestowed.

We have heard of atrocities such as the Spanish Inquisition committed in the name of religion. According to Spanish historian Liorente about 31,000 were killed ruthlessly. Hundreds of thousands died in the fanatical Crusades. Anti-semitism was fuelled in Europe in the name of Jesus Christ, who has only said: Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.

Are we heading towards another fanatical crusade or inquisition in the name of Lord Buddha, whose message was based on universal love and kindness?

Lord Buddha denounced the dry forms and dead rituals considered as religion those days. He was an unarmed rebel. These fundamentalists claim they would do anything to protect Buddhism from evil. I believe no evil power can destroy Buddhism as it is the law of the universe. These so-called saviours seem like ecclesiastics of the Middle Age. Lord Buddha taught love, compassion, honesty and self-sacrifice and denounced hatred. These fundamentalists have distorted the teachings of the Buddha.

We boast of a history, which is more than 2500 years old. When Europeans were practising dead rituals and pagan customs our forefathers were upholding Buddhist teachings. “Not by hate is hate destroyed, by love alone is hate destroyed” -Lord Buddha

Umayanga Hettige

What a shame!
We Sri Lankans should be ashamed of ourselves over the incident that happened on December 11. We invited Bollywood stars to perform here and treated them badly. Despite the busy schedule, they accepted our invitation but we couldn't appreciate it. A small thing was made into a big issue by Buddhist monks. Finally we got a bad reputation internationally.

Shahrukh Khan spoke sense when he said that it is not possible to postpone the show as they are on a world tour but they will have two minutes' silence and they did.

I request the government to find the people who are responsible for this and punish them for killing two people and tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka.

Shamalka Perera

Tapping the haves for tax payments
Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama in his Budget 2005 stated that there are only 200,000 tax files in the Department of Inland Revenue in a country of 19,000,000 people.

More than 50% of the population, according to the print media, is depending on Samurdhi and do not wish to work. This is similar to the issue of free rice in the early fifties.

After the UNP Government was returned in 1977, in the name of liberalization of the economy, Sri Lanka became the dumping ground for sub-standard goods. Much needed foreign exchange is now being wasted and all types of goods are available in plenty, but at a price.

In this process, several thousands of people have become rich and many business establishments have been opened due to the liberalization of the trade policy of the then government, not to mention big-time smuggling and drug trafficking.

In the good old days when you bought a vehicle or a house or property you received a letter from the Department of Inland Revenue inquiring whether you had a Tax File, as the Department of Motor Traffic and the Registry of Lands furnished this information to the Department of Inland Revenue.

There should be more than 800,000 working professionals in the country, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, businessmen, importers, exporters and investors in the stock exchange, etc. who earn more than Rs. 25,000 a month and yet do not pay any taxes.

This reminds me of Ronnie de Mel, finance minister in the J.R. Jayewardene Government of 1984, in his Budget proposals castigating the legal profession for understating their true income thereby defrauding the Inland Revenue Department. He said that only 23 lawyers in the country declared an income of Rs. 100,000 then.

People in this country must understand that whichever government comes to power it needs money for the economy and the services such as free education, free health, Samurdhi funds, etc.

I would like to suggest that Finance Minister Amunugama harness the services of the Grama Sevakas who could assist the government in collecting more revenue. These Grama Sevakas could be requested through the Ministry of Home Affairs under whose jurisdiction they come to furnish the names and addresses of all business establishments and new rich within their divisions, who in their opinion come within the tax net of earning Rs. 25,000 a month or more. These tax evading parasites could then be rounded up by the Inland Revenue Department’s regional offices.

The present day Grama Sevaka Niladaris should be given an incentive (rewards) if their information bears fruitful results. I would further like to take this opportunity to make a suggestion to the relevant authorities, which I made several years ago, as to how to recover taxes from professionals in the legal and medical fields, as many of them do not issue any receipts for professional fees collected from their clients.

i. For all cash payments received, a receipt should be given to the client.
ii. The day a lawyer appears in court to file proxy etc. on behalf of his client and thereafter every time he receives his professional fee on every appearance, the duplicate of the payment receipt issued to the client should be filed in respect of each case in court.

iii. The triplicate copy of the receipt should be retained by the lawyer for inspection by the tax authorities.
iv. In the case of preparation of title deeds, bonds, agreements, etc, the duplicate copy of the payment receipt issued to the client should be attached to these documents, prior to registration with the Land Registry.

Medical specialists/consultants
i. Nursing homes/ private hospitals and consultation clinics should be directed by the Inland Revenue Department to retain 20% as with-holding tax from the fees collected on behalf of the specialist/consultant.

(Presently 20% with-holding is retained by finance companies and banks on fixed deposits on behalf of the Inland Revenue Department)
I doubt if any honest member of the legal and medical profession will object to the above suggestions in the larger interest of the country.
Let the haves give to the have nots.

F. A. Rodrigo-Sathianathan

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