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Joint Opposition asks JVP to vote against VAT Bill


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Untitled-5By Chamodi Gunawardana

The Joint Opposition yesterday called for the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to vote against Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation, which will be presented in Parliament next week for a Second Reading.

Speaking to the media at former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s media relations office, Parliamentarian Dullas Alahapperuma said that due to the Joint Opposition’s lack of numbers in Parliament it needed JVP and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) votes to gain a two-thirds majority.

“The reality is that 51 MPs of the Joint Opposition can’t make a majority with their own votes. Therefore we seek other progressive parties’ commitment to defeat the VAT legislation in the people’s interest,” he said. 

Following the Supreme Court interim order to suspend the implementation of the recent revision made to VAT and Nation Building Tax (NBT) until the relevant regulations were passed in Parliament, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the VAT (Amendment) Bill had already been presented to Parliament for its First Reading on 8 July, with its Second Reading expected later this month.

Accordingly, the Joint Opposition requested the public to continue its protests against the VAT hike until the Bill was tabled in Parliament.

“Even if the Joint Opposition is unable to defeat the Bill the people’s voice can lobby the Government to withdraw the legislation on VAT,” Alahapperuma said. 

Separately, the Joint Opposition also condemned the arrest of MP Namal Rajapaksa, saying the move played to the Government’s own political agenda.

After visiting Rajapaksa at Welikada Prison, Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena charged that Rajapaksa’s prison cell had already been prepared by the authorities ahead of his arrest. 

“Two days before the arrest, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told the media that some major characters from the Joint Opposition would be arrested in another few days. How can he know about a court decision before it is made?” Gunawardena asked.

He further argued that the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) was illegal and added that the Joint Opposition would take necessary legal action to release Rajapaksa as soon as possible. 

Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

 


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