UNP and JVP on the warpath against Chief Ministers? decision
A decision by two provincial councils to increase taxes on non-essential commodities from one per cent five per cent with effect from today (01) has run into stiff opposition from the UNP and the JVP.
The UNP has called upon the Sabaragamuwa and the North-Western Provincial Councils, which were to effect the hike, to immediately abolish it, as it will result in further increases in cost of living. UNP MP and former minister Bandula Gunawardena has said it is unbecoming of a government that calls itself pro-people to burden the public with tax increases, which he says his party views as ?unusual.?
The government must immediately withdraw the increase in keeping with the recent promise made in Parliament to that effect by none other than the General Secretary of UPFA and Minister Susil Premajanth. Having come to power promising to ease the burden on the people, the UPFA has abolished taxes on the Stock Exchange and imposed excessive burden on the people, he has said.
Meanwhile, the UPFA coalition partner JVP has lashed out at the provincial councils over the tax increase, saying the provincial councils have no right to effect tax increases.
Chief Minister of the NWPC Athula Wijesinghe told The Island yesterday that the decision to increase taxes had been taken at a recent Chief Ministers? Conference in Ratnapura, chaired by the Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Maheepala Herath.
Revenue Commissioner of Sabaragamuwa M. A. Chandrapala said since the inception of provincial councils in 1987, no taxes had been increased. And the decision to increase taxes had not met with any opposition when it was gazetted.
Asked to name some items on which the increase would take effect, he said the category included imported bathroom fittings, mobile phones, cameras, refrigerators, washing machines, fans, television etc., gem and jewellery , heavy land vehicle (sale or lease), timber, office equipment. The tax increase on liquor and cigarettes will be imposed only on wholesalers, he said.
Revenue Commissioner of NWPC H. H. B. Ukuwela said he was ready to the tax increase would take effect from today.
Chief Minister of the Uva Province Wijithamuni Soyza said the proposed tax increase would be discussed at a ruling party meeting scheduled for today and the resolution adopted there would be presented to the Council.
Southern Province Chief Minister Shan Wijelal de Silva said a decision on the matter would be taken shortly and an announcement made. Chief Revenue Commissioner Mrs. S. P. D. Ellepola said she awaiting a decision by the council.
Chief Revenue Commissioner of the Central Province Mrs. R. K. W. Wijeratne said a decision would be taken today.
Chief Revenue Commissioner of the North Central Province P. T. G. Mahindaratne said the tax increase had been published in a gazette extraordinary and it NCPC Chief Minister would make a final decision on the matter.
Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray said his council had put the increase on hold for three and appointed a provincial sub committee to look into the matter and report back to him. He said he had asked each political party represented in the council to nominate a representative each to the committee.