The Joint Opposition has declared that it will take every measure possible to oppose the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill, including go to courts if necessary.
Former Minister G. L. Peiris said that the Government should not introduce such bills in an ad hoc manner, and any new taxes should only come via the annual budget.
He also castigated SLFP MPs saying they had no moral right to support the Bill.
Last week the Cabinet gave the green light for the amended VAT bill, however speaking to reporters over the weekend former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that this was the same bill that was introduced earlier by the government and there was no amendment. “They are trying to dupe the people by saying it’s amended,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Rajapaksa called on the government not to tax the sick. If the VAT bill comes into effect, patients who seek treatment from private hospitals will be liable to pay the tax except for OPD services, diagnostic tests and for dialysis.
In April this year, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made an announcement in Parliament that the VAT will be increased from 11% to 15% with effect from May. However, following a petition by Opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa, the Supreme Court issued an interim order suspending the tax increase mid-July. The tax increase was to become affective after the Government passed the VAT Bill in Parliament, however the government suffered yet another setback when the Supreme Court ruled that the government had not followed the correct procedure when presenting the Bill in Parliament last month.