Millions of rupees entitled to the government as penalty charges from the Sri Lanka Customs Department have been lost due to the conduct of senior Custom officials, a report submitted to Parliament by the Committee on Public Accounts (CoPA) divulged.
The relevant penalty charges have been divided as prize monies amongst the senior Custom officials, according to the report.
It further revealed that only a limited number of Custom officials received these monies. This has been a practice at the Customs in the event that Custom officials are spending a precarious period in their duties. The privilege to receive such prizes has been misused by these officials and penalty charges amounting to millions of rupees entitled to the government have been collected for their own benefit, the report added.
The CoPA in its report suggests that the Custom Department’s cash prize rules should be amended in a manner in which a higher percentage of penalties is entitled to the government. Although a certain amount of prize money should be allocated to the officials given their risky nature of the duties, it is not acceptable to misuse the opportunity to collect large sums of money, the CoPA pointed out.
The above loss has incurred due to the fact that value added tax (VAT) and customs duty were withheld and the underpaid tax was levied as an additional tax and about 70 per cent of the penalty charges were collected as prize money, the report added.