by Indi Samarajiva
The Sri Lankan government is now asking that news websites not only register, but that they also pay Rs. 100,000 for the privilege, plus Rs. 50,000 annually.
This addresses the ruling parties personal and financial insecurity in one blow.
It’s also an extremely chilling tax (they call it a fee) on new media and artificially inhibits Sri Lankans right to publication, as guaranteed under the Constitution.
14. (1) Every citizen is entitled to -
(a) the freedom of speech and expression including publication;
I would venture that demanding a fee equal to three times the average household income limits citizens freedom in that regard. This government is not content to make tax payers pay for their propaganda via state owned media like The Daily News and ITN and Rupavahini. They also want to tax any citizens trying to get into media for themselves.
This follows them blocking various news sites, arresting journalists, and generally intimidating and blustering around.
This tax is terrible because it inhibits anyone trying to express themselves or create websites after all. After all, what exactly is a news website? Is this blog? If I hired two writers would it become one? Who knows? What if you have not a news website but a popular Facebook page?
Here is how they justify the tax:
“New technologies and methodologies were used in the media and the government thought it fit and the time is right to make amendments to existing act to accommodate new technologies,” minister Rambukwelle said.
Minister Rambukwelle said the law was needed because some websites were publishing ‘raw filth’. (LBO)
Which doesn’t really make sense. The government has mass producers of raw filth on public payroll, like Mervyn Silva. They just don’t like criticism or information leveled against them, ie free speech. This is an absolute travesty and a shame. courtesy: indi.ca