Traders say prez will delay VAT bill, suspend hartal


By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

Trader unions yesterday decided to suspend their countrywide hartal against the VAT Amendment Bill scheduled to be presented to Parliament today following an assurance given by President Maithripala Sirisena that it would not be submitted this week, union sources said.

Trader union leaders said that President Sirisena had contacted them yesterday morning following media reports of a countrywide hartal against the VAT Bill and requested them to meet him in the evening to discuss the issue.

The trade unionists accepted the President’s invitation. The unionists then asked all their branches countrywide and instructed them to suspend the agitation. Representatives of the business community met the President in Colombo and the meeting was successful, a senior member of the collective of Trader Unions told The Island.

Meanwhile, senior government sources last night confirmed that the VAT Amendment Bill would not be presented to Parliament this week. Another version of the bill after accommodating the amendments proposed by the SLFP members of the government would be presented to the House later, sources said.

The Supreme Court decision on the petitions submitted against VAT revisions has been sent to the Speaker of Parliament. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is expected to announce the Supreme Court decision to Parliament today.

Government sources said that the issue of VAT amendments would be taken up at today’s Cabinet meeting.

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