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Sunday, 10 May 2015

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Less taxing?

Department of Posts considers income tax payment at post offices:

The Department of Posts which depended on traditional services, is turning into an institution that provides modern services to customers. The Department plans to introduce various services jointly with Government and private sector institutions soon, Postmaster General D P L. Rohana Abeyratne told the Sunday Observer.

Postmaster General D.P.L. Rohana Abeyratne

The Department holds discussions with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to start a mechanism facilitating the individuals to pay their income taxes at post offices. Sanasa Insurance Company Limited [SICL] has also made a proposal to the Postmaster General seeking to facilitate their customers to pay insurance premium through post offices, he said.

Abeyratne said that currently individuals and companies pay their income taxes to IRD only through the People's Bank and the Bank of Ceylon.

The Postal Department also has the facility to provide the same service and if it is permitted to operate this service a large number of income tax payees will benefit. By providing these services the Postal Department hopes to serve the society better. The Western Union money transfer service is also now functional in the post offices.

Approval

When an IRD officer was questioned about this he said the Postmaster General brought such a proposal to the attention of IRD but it has not taken any decisions in this regard because it has to obtain the approval of the Finance Ministry.

The officer said that currently the individuals and companies pay their taxes through Bank of Ceylon and the People's Bank because the IRD has direct links with these institutions. If a mechanism to pay the income tax through post offices was introduced a large number individuals who pay income tax will benefit. But the IRD has not come to a conclusion in regard to this matter so far. The IRD can introduce any new projects or programs only with the approval of the Finance Ministry.

The revenue collected by the IRD during 2013 was Rs. 492,539 million which is an increase of 11.07% compared to the previous year.

It was a 43.30% contribution to the Government revenue and 5.68% to the Gross Domestic Production of the year.

The IRD engaged in an integrated mechanism consisting of facilitation and enforcement measures to improve tax compliance, he said.

Under the corporate category 36,690 persons and under the non corporate category 476,816 persons paid income tax in 2013, the officer said.He said that 297,240 persons have paid Pay- As- You- Earn (PAYE) tax by March 31, 2013.

Under the other tax payers category 4,561 persons and partnerships registered for Economic Service Charges (ESC), 14,851 persons registered for Value Added Tax (VAT), 170 persons for Value Added Tax on Financial Services, 499 persons registered for Optional VAT and 20,480 persons registered for Nation Building Tax (NBT) paid income tax in 2013.

Meanwhile 1,067 Betting Levy Files, five Gaming Levy Files, 11,778 employers registered under PAYE scheme, 2,517 Withholding Tax on Interest

(Withholding Agents), 84 Withholding Tax on Specified fees (Regular Monthly Schedules Senders), 7,648 Construction Industry Guarantee Fund Levy 253 and Stamp Duty (Regular Monthly Schedules Senders) have also paid tax in the same year .

Meanwhile, Postmaster General Abeyratne said that due to networking of post offices the customers of Postal Department receive the services which are available in the private sector telecommunication service providers. Abeyratne said insurance premium of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Ceylinco Insurance can be paid at post offices.

Electronic payment

There are facilities at post officers to pay Mobitel bills. The main advantage is the postmen collect these bills, he said.

"Due to the electronic payment module we will introduce various payment systems. We have held discussions with the National Savings Bank (NSB) to pay its customers foreign remittances in the post offices. Decision has already been taken. Technical part is also almost over now. Agreement has also beenfinalised now. We need to take the approval from the Attorney General's Department. The NSB customers will benefit after launching this program," he said.

The depositor will be given a PIN by the exchange house where he deposits the money and he should send it to the recipient and could collect the money by submitting the PIN at any post office across the country, we hope to introduce this program from June this year," Abeyratne said. "We have received a proposal from Sanasa Insurance Company to collect their insurance premium through post offices. Now the proposed project is being studied by experts, "he said.

"Proposals have come for e-channeling through post offices. Some of the proposals will be implemented soon. We also plan to sell Airtel and Hutch prepaid cards through the postal network. This program will be implemented by the end of this month", the Postmaster General said.

"Telecom bills can also be paid at post offices. This service is becoming popular among the public," he said.

Earlier Speed Post Service was functional at the Postal Department and later it was modified. The service was expedited by deploying private vans, he said.

"The Postal Department has introduced a new mail service through the Southern Expressway with the help of SLTB buses plying on thisroad. Arrangements have been made to deliver mails in three hours in Colombo," Abeyratne said.

"The Postal Department also operates logistic service. There is a huge demand for logistic service in the world. We introduced 'Logi post' service to send small parcels and packets. It is also becoming popular among the public day by day. We plan to do this service in a massive scale across the country. Steps have been taken to buy five lorries to operate this service.

We face a shortage of staff to run this service," the Postmaster General said.When Assistant General Manager Motor Insurance of Sanasa Insurance Niranjan Wanasinghe was asked about the proposed program to collect their insurance premium through post offices he said that they are waiting for the approval of the Postal Department to launch this service.

"Around 4,600 post offices and 16 regional post offices operate in the country. The Attorney General's Department has granted permission to Ceylinco Insurance to collect insurance premiums through post offices and expressed confidence that the Attorney General's Department will approve this project ", he said."We are ready to hand over the authority to collect the insurance premium of Sanasa through post offices. There are minor problems in the administration.

"When it is cleared there will be no issue in introducing this service. We have prepared proposal forms. We have commenced training for this project.Wanasinghe said that around 90 percent of the work of the program is already over. When the legal procedure are over we hope to operate this service jointly with the Postal Department.

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