Hartals by traders across the country tomorrow against VAT

by Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

Traders’s unions are poised to hold protests throughout the county starting from tomorrow against the government’s plan to take up the VAT amendment bill in Parliament on Thursday. Union representatives said that they would conduct a countrywide hartal tomorrow by shutting down their shops and taking to the streets.

As part of the protests organised by the All Ceylon Trader Union Collective, a letter would be handed over to the MPs of all parties, demanding that they vote against the VAT bill.

Trader union representatives said that their objective was to defeat the moves by the government to rush the VAT bill through Parliament on August 11. They said that the government had reneged on President Maithripala Sirisena’s promise to the traders that changes to VAT would not be effected without the concurrence of business community.


It was the first time in Sri Lankan history that all shops would be shut down in protest against a tax revision introduced by a government, the unionists said, adding that they would hoist black flags and display posters and banners condemning the VAT revision. It would be an apolitical protest, they said.

Members of the trader unions held demonstrations following the VAT and NBT increases introduced by the government a few weeks ago. President Sirisena met the representatives of the business community on July 04 in the wake of the protests and pledged to introduce a tax system which would not place the businessmen in difficulty. Following the promises made by the President the protests organized at town level were suspended.

The Supreme Court on July 11 issued an interim order suspending the operation of the Finance Minister’s decision to implement VAT and NBT increases from May 2 pending the passage of relevant legislation.

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