ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Engineers’ Union held a protest in Colombo at early hours on Friday against the increase in personal income tax imposed by the government from this month amid more state sector unions have vowed to join the agitation in the future.
The government has raised taxes up to a maximum of 36 percent after 100,000 rupee monthly tax free income. Majority of the island nation’s state sector workers get a compensation below the monthly tax free allowance.
The government has raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit though many trade unions see the move as “unfair” and “lack of transparency”.
“It is very unreasonable that the government is imposing such taxes,” a spokesman for the CEB Engineers’ Union told EconomyNext.
Power and Energy Ministry officials have said the CEB engineers are one of the highest paid groups in the country.
President Rani Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the finance minister, has also raised corporate taxes to 30 percent from 24 from this year, after almost doubling the value added tax (VAT) last year.
The higher taxes come as the inflation is hovering around 57 percent while borrowing cost is running around 30 percent.
“When they charge 30 percent taxes from a person…. how can that person survive in this crisis?” the spokesman said, referring to the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.
“On top of that, they have increased Value Added Tax and others as well, putting tax on tax for the general public”.
The Union started the protest near the Finance Ministry today, dispersed after the troops reached the location from the nearby military base, eye witnesses said.
Sri Lanka is witnessing a new wave of protests against increased taxes as many people have not paid taxes in their entire lives. The protests also come ahead of the Local Government elections.
“We have spoken to other trade unions as well and little by little, everyone else is also gathering together to fight against this matter” spokesperson said.
Disclaimer: Sri Lanka’s CEB engineers protest against high tax; warn to expend agitation By CHANKA JAYASINGHE - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view