ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

No extension for Tax Chief

By Bandula Sirimanna

The Government is not extending the services of controversial Inland Revenue Commissioner General A.A. Wijepala after he retires on Thursday on completing sixty years of age, bowing to the wishes of trade unions and a large segment of the staff.

Trade unions and staff resorted to a go-slow this week saying there were attempts to provide an extension to Mr Wijepala or an officer selected by him. On Thursday a massive protest demonstration was held opposite the Inland Revenue headquarters in Colombo from 12 noon to 1.00 p.m. with the participation of a majority of the staff. On the same evening, union leaders at a meeting, apprised President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Finance and State Revenue Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya of the situation and the President then directed that Mr. Wijepala would not be given an extension and that the most senior officer would be appointed to the impending vacancy.

Minister Siyambalapitiya told The Sunday Times that trade unions had now agreed to call of their work-to-rule campaign. He added that the President ordered to expedite the computerisation programme of the Inland Revenue Department, - another demand of unions.

However he said the appointment of the new Tax Chief will be made by the Cabinet on recommendations of the Finance Ministry Secretary.

A spokesman of the joint trade union front said on Friday that this decision was not informed in writing. However he said the decision of the front on this issue would be announced tomorrow. Unions have accused the Tax Chief, who is also facing accusations of involvement in the VAT scam, of promotions, transfers and allocation of duties to the officers of the Inland Revenue Department in an arbitrary manner.

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