COPA reveals huge Customs losses | Daily News

COPA reveals huge Customs losses

Rs. 6,130 MN loss from clearing goods of Palm Oil companies:
Rs. 1,300 MN loss from “Dual Purpose” vehicles:
Rs. 40 mN loss from perfume imports:

Sri Lanka Customs had incurred a loss of Rs. 6130 million in just four years due to negligence when clearing specific goods of two palm oil companies.

This loss of Rs 6130 million from 2013-2016 incurred by the Sri Lanka Customs related to two leading palm oil companies was brought to the attention of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) held on Thursday, the Parliament Communication Division said.

An audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Department revealed that the loss of money was due to the negligence on the part of Sri Lanka Customs officials having failed to clear specific goods under the Harmonized System (HS Code) within the relevant frame.

Although the Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance Mr. S.R. Attygalle has already taken measures to investigate and recover the losses incurred by the Government due to these companies, the Committees directed the Sri Lanka Customs to also take immediate action on this regard to which the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs Major General Vijitha Ravipriya agreed.

It was also highlighted that since 2013, the Government has lost a revenue of Rs. 220 million because importers have registered imported vehicles as dual-purpose vehicles for special purposes.

Accordingly, it was revealed that a minimum of Rs.1300 million amounting to Rs.3 million each (443 × 3) could have been levied for 443 specialized vans during the periods from 2010-2019.

Another major irregularity was revealed through the audit pertaining the importation of 10 vans and 414 lorries under special purpose vehicles category from 2010 was discussed at the committee. The committee also took into account a luxury car valued at nearly Rs. 9 million released by the Sri Lanka Customs under a levy of only Rs. 1.5 million having registered it under special purpose vehicles. If the vehicle was cleared under the relevant category of vehicles, the levy payable to the Government would be approximately

Rs. 56 million. Having pointed out the observations, it was proposed to expedite the maintaining of an automated computer comparison system as previously recommended by the committee having discussed with the Sri Lanka Customs and the Department of Motor Traffic.

The members of the committee agreed to assist in the legislative process if amendments to any Acts are required for the aforesaid purpose.

Failure to implement an adequate internal control system within the Sri Lanka Customs pertaining to the process of imports and exports, having released six containers of perfume belonging to an importer worth Rs. 39,335,091 in six instances claiming it as medication causing the government a loss of Rs. 40,761,600, failure to provide adequate punishment to the officials involved in the act of fraud were also revealed at the committee.

Taking into consideration issues such as the officials of Sri Lanka Customs responsible in generating 32.48% of the revenue for the year 2019 opposing the implementation of a finger print machine to mark absence and attendance, weaknesses of internal governance, issues pertaining the recruitment of an Attorney and a Chief Internal Auditor for the Legal Department, members of the COPA committee mutually agreed upon summoning Sri Lanka Customs again before the committee after a lapse of two months.

Director General of the Sri Lanka Customs and its high-ranking officials, Officials of the Ministry of Finance and officials of the Auditor General’s Department marked their presence at the Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Hon. (Prof.) Tissa Vitharana.

Members of the Committee and Minister of State Dayasiri Jayasekara, Shehan Semasinghe, Prasanna Ranaweera and MPs Members of Parliament Tissa Attanayake, Ashoka Abeysinghe, Gunapala Ratnasekera, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Prof. Ranjith Bandara, Niroshan Perera, Gamini Waleboda, S. Shritharan, Prof. Harini Amarasuriya and Upul Galappaththi were present at the meeting.