In response to the amendments to the Value Added Tax (VAT) which was announced by the government on Wednesday, a leading consumer rights group yesterday said the entire health sector should be exempted from VAT.
In a letter addressed to President Maithripala Sirisena , the National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection said the entire health sector should be exempted in order to ease the tax burden of the people.
“The amount of funds which the state spends for health could be reduced if the private sector health services are provided at an affordable price", the letter signed by National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection President Ranjith Withanage said.
“We wonder as to whether you have also become helpless just like the poor patients despite being the President of this country,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Withanage when contacted by the Daily Mirror said the exemption of OPD charges, laboratory charges and dialysis charges from VAT is hardly sufficient as medicines and other equipment such as injections are often have to be purchased from the private sector even if a patient seek treatment from a state hospital.
Further Mr. Withanage called the statement made by Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne on Wednesday that hospital and surgery charges will be regulated is a pledge which is not going to be kept.
“The Minister has been saying this for some time but no concrete steps are taken to implement it,” he added. (Yohan Perera)