Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance Approves VAT Increase to 18%, Recommends Exemptions for Essential Items

December 07, 2023

The Committee on Public Finance (COPF) has given its approval for the increase of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 18 percent, contingent on certain amendments. Committee Chairman Harsha de Silva conveyed this decision to Parliament, emphasizing that the COPF had also proposed exemptions for key items, including infant foods, medical equipment, and fertilizers.

Dr. Harsha de Silva highlighted the committee's recommendation to waive VAT on essential items, stating, "It's good if the Government can leave out those segments as they are essential to the public. It's true that the government must increase revenue, but there should be fair taxation policies. Products related to child nutrition are highly unfair. Also, imposing VAT on agriculture affects farmers. We recommended the government to reconsider those measures."

The approval for the VAT increase, subject to amendments, comes amid discussions about the government's fiscal measures to boost revenue. While recognizing the necessity for revenue enhancement, the committee's emphasis on fair taxation policies reflects concerns about the potential impact on the public, particularly regarding essential goods and sectors.

The recommendation to waive VAT on infant foods, medical equipment, and fertilizers underscores the committee's commitment to protecting vulnerable segments of the population and supporting essential sectors.