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Businesses urged to pass on tax-cut benefits to consumers

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a wide-ranging press conference held in Colombo yesterday urged businesses in Sri Lanka to pass on the benefit of the tax cuts to the consumers.

“We removed a complex tax structure and brought in a simple one. The prices of everything from food, construction material to soap and toothpaste should have come down. But we found that prices of some commodities have actually risen” he said.

He said that he had met with the large-scale Rice millers to persuade them to reduce the price of the essential commodity after the government discovered that prices had gone up by about thirty rupees a kilogram after the elections.

He said that the government cut taxes in the hope that there would be savings that can be invested. “With more investments, there will be more economic activity and employment opportunities,” he said.

He said that the government will provide consistency in taxation policies and ease the route for foreign investors.

He also promised not to roll back the price and tax reductions after the general elections.

Among other economic measures, he said that the government will work at turning around loss-making State-Owned Enterprises. “We will bring in businessmen, entrepreneurs to run these organizations so that we can make them profitable. It will be hard to turn around some of them, but we will do it,” he added.

He said that the government has launched a program to help the poorest of the poor by creating a “force” of 100,000 people who are Samurdhi beneficiaries by giving them unskilled jobs in the state sector. These people will be recruited before the General Election he said.

“The idea is for them to earn a steady salary so that they don’t have to depend on Samurdhi he said.

The President also said that Parliament will be dissolved at the end of February and Parliamentary General elections held. “Provincial Council elections will be held thereafter,” he told reporters.

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