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Government faces headwinds in Parliament

11 December 2023 08:53 am - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Colombo, Dec 11 (Daily Mirror) - The government faced headwinds in Parliament yesterday in its attempt to boost revenue by enacting a piece of legislation to reduce the VAT-exempted list from 138 categories of items to 97, a move that will have a two percent inflationary effect.

The House was convened yesterday for a special session despite it being a Sunday, given the urgency to pass the bill which, if enacted, will pave the way for the government to collect as much as Rs. 338 billion to its coffers as part of its measures to increase revenue to 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025.

Ahead of the possible approval of the next IMF tranche soon, the government is under compulsion to reach its revenue targets according to the stipulated timeline.

State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya who started the debate tried to justify the move as something aimed at long-term economic stability despite difficulties in the short run for people already grappling with a soaring cost of living .

He said its impact on inflation could be offset by the proposed electricity price reduction and the fuel price drop in the world market.

However, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Dr. Harsha de Silva was not opposed to revenue generation in principle . Yet , he raised concerns about the inclusion of items such as fresh milk and agriculture implements for VAT despite their impact on public life .

A debate ensued between the government and the opposition mainly on the absence of the list of 41 categories of items excluded from VAT.

In the meantime , SJB MP for the Kurunegala district Nalin Bandara Jayamaha raised that there was no quorum in the House to proceed with the debate. Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapakse who was presiding at the time ordered to ring the quorum bell for five minutes in keeping with the Standing Orders governing parliamentary businesses .

The government was unable to keep the required number of MPs present in the House to maintain the quorum . Eventually , the Deputy Speaker adjourned the House till today . Including the presiding member , there has to be 20 MPs in the House as the quorum .

It is viewed as a setback for the government. Later , Mr. Siyambalapitiya told Daily Mirror that a fresh date would be set for the debate in consultation with the party leaders.

“All the MPs were supposed to be present by 4.30 pm when the bill was to be put to vote . But , the opposition raised the quorum issue and scuttled the debate . It is unjustifiable ,” he said.


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  Comments - 8

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  • Fact Monday, 11 December 2023 09:34 AM

    Sri Lankans prefer indirect taxes on consumption over direct income tax. Government on the othe hand does not want to curb the informal business practices that takes place without proper invoices and accounted money transactions.

    A concerned citizen Monday, 11 December 2023 10:00 AM

    Sir we may agree yr 87 products will be exempted from vat.for e.g this exempted product to be sold as a final product to consumer (after inner packing polythene outer packing added with ingredients to give a value to this product these ingredients, packing will not be VAT exempted) finally to transport spare parts may be not VAT exempted.The final product price to the consumer will be additional 5% VAT not 3%.This is the reality which is known from grade 10 child.So every one will pay atleast 5% more only for this VAT increase.Better not to increase this 3% vat at all and worse come to worse you deduct 5% on income tax.people will no surely Govt.wants 5%

    Gon Rala Monday, 11 December 2023 11:35 AM

    Politicians have more important things to attend than to waste hours on end debating on these irrelevant issues. They have their businesses to run and mistresses to service.

    Bandu Monday, 11 December 2023 11:37 AM

    How illogical for a State Minister on Finance to say the opposition raised the quorum issue and scuttled the debate and it is unjustifiable. But quorum is essential - not opposition fault when your govt 134 members do not care a damn. Do not blame others but your govt Whip not getting your own side.

    Nihal S Monday, 11 December 2023 11:44 AM

    "If enacted, will pave the way for the government to collect as much as Rs. 338 billion to its coffers as part of its measures to increase revenue to 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025". So much effort to increase the revenue and no one appears to be talking about the Government expenditure control by reducing obvious corruptions, minimising wastage, enhancing accountability etc. This is very unfortunate - the burden is always on the consumers and general public.

    Wiseman Monday, 11 December 2023 12:47 PM

    Would there be Sri Lankans left in Sri Lanka to tax? all remaining ones will start to migrate at this rate.

    Ram Monday, 11 December 2023 01:55 PM

    We pay these parasites to do a job and they are not in the Chamber when Parliament is sitting. President must have guts to take note and dissolve the Parliament.

    Jhonnia Monday, 11 December 2023 02:46 PM

    Ranil and guts cannot be mentioned in the same sentence.


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