MR’s BIL & Forex
With attention by policymakers these days focused on the exchange rate (ER) due to its volatility, some of the dailies on Monday (June 11) reported that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother-in-law (BIL) and SriLankan Airlines’ Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe’s Mt. Lavinia house was burgled recently, with one daily alleging that foreign currency to the value of Rs. five million and a Rolex wristwatch being those which had been stolen.
Another said that which was robbed were a Rs. four million wristwatch and foreign currency to the value of Rs. eight million while a third said that the value of the aforesaid items which were burgled was more than Rs. eight million.
Leaving aside the alleged stolen wristwatch and assuming that the value of the foreign currency allegedly stolen was the low Rs. four million amount as quoted in one newspaper, that figure then is also equivalent to US$ 30,769 in foreign currency, on the basis that 1$=Rs. 130.
Presuming that Wickramasinghe is a Sri Lankan citizen and is not a beneficiary to foreign exchange (forex) income, with his source of income being the salary he earns at SriLankan, how then did he allegedly come to be in possession of $ 30769 or a sum of foreign currency equivalent to that amount is the question?
Or was it through forex allowances accumulated over a period of time when going overseas on official work where on such occasions he’s paid in forex by his company the reason for this large sum of forex?
According to the law, the taxable income of a citizen of this country is applicable if he earns more than Rs. 600,000 annually. In that context has Wickramasinghe made a due declaration of his alleged foreign currency holdings to the Inland Revenue Department?
Wickramasinghe, being a person who holds public office, besides being the President’s BIL, is duty bound to give an explanation as to how he or his family allegedly came into possession of this forex in the interest of transparency and following the dictum that all are equal before the law.