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Naming and shaming is the way to go: Harsha


Outspoken UNP MP Harsha de Silva said the UPFA would never humiliate those crooks near and dear to the leadership as long as they remained faithful to the incumbent administration.

The consultant economist said: "‘Name and shame’ is a way of discouraging certain wrong activity and has been used for a long time in many countries.

``Recently the law enforcement agencies contemplated releasing photographs of some women, including victims, for ‘acting’ in pornographic movies."    Commenting on the arrest of two thieves at Bharathipuram, Kilinochchi in the early hours of Friday (Sept.2) by the elite police commandos, the MP said that those robbing food items due to poverty were being arrested and prosecuted while ‘mega’ crooks rub shoulders with politicians.

The MP was referring to the arrest of two persons, Sriram Vijikan and Subramanium Thawaseelan along with 41 kgs of rice, 26 pieces of soap, one 400 g anchor milk powder packet, two chocolate biscuits packets, 1.750 kgs of tea and three tubes of tooth paste.

This was nothing but a cruel joke, he said. The government should be ashamed of what was actually going on in spite of repeated vows to  make Sri Lanka wonder of Asia.

"However, when it comes to the rich and powerful it is a different story. I doubt very much the Government has the spine to name tax dodgers or massive loan defaulters. I am now fully convinced it is the ugly nexus between tax dodgers, certain politicians and corrupt officials that prevent them from being named and shamed.

``Some of these day-light rogues have even become ‘Honourable’ MPs and Ministers; what a sorry state of affairs!  The fact of the matter is that while these powerful and wealthy tax dodging criminals enjoy ‘pink salmon’ at 5 star hotels the poor are burdened with more taxes to sustain the former’s wasteful lifestyles and to repay the hugely expensive commercial loans."

The National List MP was responding to The Sunday Island  query whether Sri Lanka should follow a recent decision of Greece to name companies accused of major tax evasion on the Internet in an effort to boost weak revenues that were undermining the country’s financial recovery.

International wire services quoted Greek Finance Minister Evengelos Venizelos as having said that individuals would be named in the new tax campaign, following consultation with privacy protection authorities.

Poor revenues in the crisis-hit country are threatening deficit reduction targets agreed as part of international bailout loan deals.

The UNPer said that Sri Lanka was experiencing major difficulties, though the Rajapaksa regime was acting as if nothing could upset their grandiose plans.

The MP said: "However more and more responsible Governments around the world are now beginning to name and shame tax dodgers in a way that is not overstepping the power of the disclosure of information.

``For instance in the UK, HM Revenue and Customs will begin to name tax dodgers of more than GBP 25,000 who have been penalized and upon completion of the appeals process for deliberate tax evasion for the tax year beginning on 1 April 2010.  The names are to be published for a 12 month period starting no later than 12 months from the date of penalty."

"No one must be penalized for being successful and making money. But they must also contribute their fair share in taxes to provide public goods to society.  Given that the Government has taken forward the UNP’s thinking in reducing the tax rates, professionals and business people must at least now become more civic minded and pay their self calculated taxes.  It is the right thing to do.  If not, they must be willing to be named and shamed; may not be now, but some day in the future."  

The MP said that nothing had been done to tackle waste and corrupting, though President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the end of war in May 2009 assured the nation he would eradicate corruption the way he defeated the LTTE.

~ ~ By Shamindra Ferdinando


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