• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Regulations on the Colombo Port City’s duty-free shopping complex submitted for cabinet approval amid legal concerns

The Committee on Public Finance (COPF) informed the Secretary to the Ministry of the Investment Promotion to intervene with immediate effect to arrive at a decision regarding a duty-free shopping mall to be established in the port city of Colombo, as the opinion of the Attorney General and the opinion of the Commission are contradicting with each other.

This was revealed at the Committee on Public Finance Chaired by MP Dr.Harsha de Silva, which met yesterday last week in Parliament to focus on the legal authority of the Port City Economic Commission to establish a duty-free shopping mall.

However, Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Investment Promotion Anoja Herath informed that the new regulations related to a duty-free shopping complex have been submitted to the cabinet for approval.

The Committee Chair also stated that the Attorney General has informed that the Commission does not have the authority to specify duty-free goods up to 5000 dollars. In such a light, the Chair stated that a private law firm hired by the Port City Commission had informed the Committee on Public Finance in a letter that the Port City Commission has full legal powers to legislate for a duty-free shopping mall and that the opinion of the Attorney General is wrong. It was discussed that it is concerning to have been notified that the opinion of the Attorney General is wrong through a private law firm and that exercising the power to make laws without the approval of the Parliament is also concerning.

Officials of the Attorney General’s Department who were present at the meeting stated that although the Commission has the power to make laws, it does not have such unfettered powers.

The Committee was also questioned at length about the process of purchasing goods from the duty-free mall, its practicality, and its impact. Accordingly, the Chair also informed to conduct a comprehensive study and report on the possible impact on the business entities of the sale of goods in Sri Lanka and the impact on the tax process in relation to the Ministry of Finance.

Furthermore, the Chair of the Committee on Public Finance stated that given the context where the Committee had paid attention to this matter previously, not granting approval, it has paved way for the establishment of the duty-free shopping complex more accurately and that the Committee on Public Finance can be pleased in that regard.

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