FISCAL OVERDOSE With Budget 2023 following hot on the heels of the so-called ‘Interim Budget 2022,’ and the unprecedented corporate and income tax hikes expected to come into effect on 1 December, both the business community and individuals who are earning Rs. 100,000 or more a month will be bracing themselves for ‘more of the same’ – in a word, hardship. And while the rest of the citizenry are already living hand to mouth – a recent report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) claims that nearly a quarter of the population or 5.3 million people have reduced the number of meals they consume, which was followed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) putting this number at seven in 10 households – two groups of fellow Sri Lankans are going scot free: first, there are hundreds of thousands of tax evaders; and second, there are the very people who have taken us down the road to hell – our politicians! To make matters even worse, if that is possible, Sri Lankans continue to heavily subsidise a majority of the nation’s 400 or so state owned entities (a.k.a. SOEs) with more than 50 generating losses to the tune of Rs. 86 billion, according to the president’s recent budget speech. And to add insult to injury, there’s the unbridled spectacle of corruption together with the blatant inaction to repatriate ill-gotten gains that are widely believed to be stacked away in foreign lands, which means the honest man and woman on the street will continue to pay for the robber barons who are sitting pretty in their ivory towers. This isn’t a case of rough justice but one of justice denied.

– Editor-in-Chief