ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa promised sweeping tax cuts, employed workers and companies, more subsidies for farmers and investments in universities to boost graduates.
“We have to expect more from local businessmen, and we need to improve the business climate for them,” Rajapaksa told packed audience at Colombo’s Nelum Pokuna threatre Friday releasing his election manifesto.
“Obstacles to business such as archaic laws need to be modernized. There is excessive taxation and it affects people’s productivity and business success.”
The Economic Service Charge and withholding taxes for private companies and levies on religious places will be repealed, if he is elected Rajapaksa said.
“The VAT rate will be reduced to 8 percent.
The pay-as-you-earn tax will be removed for both public and private sector employees,
Both PAYE and ESC are advance collections on income tax.
If elected, income taxes for the manufacturing sector will be reduced.
A simple tax scheme will be imposed on vehicle imports, he said.
He said that technology will be introduced at the Inland Revenue Department, Customs Department and the Excise Department to fill gaps in tax collection.
Rajapaksa said no resource should be exported without value addition.
The manifesto had paid special attention to religion and national security will be a key responsibility of the government, he said.
He said that investments will be made in his first year of office in the education sector to ensure each student passing A Level exams will have the opportunity to earn a degree.
Diploma holders will be given the opportunity to earn globally recognized degrees as well.
“We want to make young Sri Lankan skills in demand in the global economy,” Rajapaksa said.
“We want to create a knowledge-based economy.”
“Creativity will also be cultivated,” Rajapaksa said.
The manifesto outlined investments for local transport infrastructure, ports and airports, with plans to grow the tourism industry to US$ 10 billion dollars.
Rajapaksa promised free fertilizer and the writing off of agriculture loans for farmers and the introduction and better agriculture technologies.
Business support and investments to grow agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries and attract younger generations to these sectors will also be pursued, he said.
Sri Lanka will be made into a world-famous organic agriculture sourcing destination under the manifesto.
He also said that women will be empowered to start businesses and join the workforce, and flexible working conditions will be introduced for new mothers to work from home.
Rajapaksa said that national security will be a main function of the government, and the sovereignty and democracy of Sri Lanka will be protected.
He outlined investments in the judicial service to expand it and introduce processes so that the backlog of delaying court cases will be resolved.
“Political and institutional corruption will be eradicated and laws will be strengthened to prosecute corruption,” he said.
“These are not empty political promises. I want everyone to support me, no matter your political party, race or religion. All that is needed is love for the country.”
“We need to make Sri Lanka a leading country in the world. A country to which people return to, instead of a country which people leave.” (Colombo/Oct25/2019)