Eran submits VAT amendment Bill to restore parliamentary powers on public finance
Saturday, 10 June 2023 00:56 – – 48
SJB MP Eran Wickramaratne yesterday submitted a private members Bill to amend the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, No. 14 of 2002 to transfer the powers vested in the Minister of Finance to Parliament. The new bill proposes that any order made by the Minister of Finance shall come into force only upon the approval of the Regulation by Parliament.As of now the Finance Minister has the powers to impose, remove, increase or reduce the VAT levy at his whims via Gazette notifications overnight. The Gazette needs the parliamentary approval only after three months. In the past this system had paved the way for corruption favouring certain individuals and companies, supportive of the ruling elites. Soon after the 2019 elections President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa reduced the VAT levy from 15 % to 8% causing a loss of one third of the State revenue.
Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara seconding the proposal by Wickramaratne said it was an important piece of law as previously presidents and finance ministers of the country made financial decisions disregarding the Parliament which has the full control over public finance under Article 148 of the Constitution. He said that this proposal restores the powers of the Parliament over public finance ensuring the Check and Balance over the acts of the Executive.