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New embarkation levies to boost state revenue comes into effect soon

The Sri Lanka government has announced the revision of the embarkation levy to be paid by passengers who leave the country through an international airport or seaport.

It has issued an Extraordinary Gazette notification announcing new embarkation levies to generate greater revenue for the Treasury at the expense of foreign exchange earnings from tourism and foreign remittances.

The embarkation levies are paid by persons departing from international airports or seaports countrywide.

As per the Gazette notification, any person departing from Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake will have to pay an embarkation leave of $ 60.

It also added that a $ 30 embarkation levy will be charged to each person departing from Jaffna International Airport during the period from 12 January to 11 July, while individuals departing from Ratmalana International Airport from 27 March 2022 to 26 March 2023 are also subject to a $ 30 embarkation levy.

However, individuals departing from Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport for two years from the date of the commencement of the operations by the airline are free.

The embarkation levy of $ 60 also applies to persons leaving the country from any other airport not mentioned above and seaports.As per the Gazette, these embarkation tax orders are effective from 12 January.

The Extraordinary Gazette notification has been issued by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance Minister.

Analysts opine that it is extremely unjust to slap more taxes on people who suffer under the pressure of high taxation brought into cover mistakes of politicians.

The remaining one-third of the Embarkation Levy, which was transferred to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s tourism promotional fund, was seized by the Treasury via the 2016 Budget, thereby grabbing the entire chunk.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has reported that in 2019, tourists paid Rs. 2.8 billion as Embarkation Tax, Rs. 4.2 billion to the Central Cultural Fund and Rs. 1.5 billion as Tourism Development Levy.

It was also pointed out that the increase in the Embarkation Levy, coupled with the increase in the tourist visa fees, tax hikes in the hotel and travel agent industries and the blanket value-added tax hikes, will make Sri Lanka more costly as a tourism destination.

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