Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake announced that the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill will be presented in Parliament today. When the Bill is passed, the public will be compelled to pay an additional 4 percent in tax, from the current 11 percent.
Addressing a press conference in Colombo, Karunanayake also announced the price increase of Rs. 7 per cigarette with effect from midnight today.
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 in August when the Supreme Court ruled that the government had not followed the correct procedure when presenting the Bill in Parliament and therefore it was null and void.
In September, Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that the Government was compelled to increase the tax to 15 percent to pay the Rs. 1.3 trillion loan taken during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term.
When passed, the 15 percent VAT will also be imposed on private health services other than diagnostic tests, dialysis and OPD services.