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Sajith promises tax reforms, support for Sri Lanka SMEs, female empowerment

ECONOMYNEXT- Sajith Premadasa, a front runner for the 2019 Presidential Election, launched his manifesto on Thursday, promising broad-based reforms to make Sri Lanka a competitive economy while providing strong welfare and female empowerment.

Premadasa, who is the presidential candidate for the New Democratic Front, said the payment threshold for pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax on income, will be increased from 100,000 rupees to 150,000 rupees.

PAYE tax brackets will also be widened, while withholding taxes and other taxes will be simplified.

He said the value added tax payment threshold for SMEs (Small and mid-sized enterprises) will be increased from 12 million rupees a year to 50 million rupees a year.

Premadasa said border taxes will be returned to pre-1990 level to encourage exports, and economic service charge on exports will be halved.

Paratariffs will be phased out while VAT and NBT taxes will be combined to a single 15 percent tax, and reduced to 12.5 percent in two years when tax compliance increases, he said.

Capital allowances for investments over 150 million US dollars will be increased by another 150 percent, he said.

Premadasa promised to provide universal pre-schooling, higher education and quality healthcare and encouragement and support for SME and innovation.

A 10 billion rupee national venture capital fund and a 10 billion rupee national innovation fund will be set up, the manifesto said.

Premadasa said 60 billion rupees will be allocated through the budget annually for procurement of goods and services from SMEs.

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The manifesto also promises an easier doing business environment for the private sector.

Premadasa said that a new national development bank and a competitive tax regime will be set up to accelerate investments to the Port City.

He promised property rights for all, with freehold land for permit holders.

Afforable housing, transportation, healthcare, transportation and telecommunications were also promised.

He said documents, permits and licenses will be available as online services or one-day services.

Free seed paddy and fertilizers will be provided for farmers, Premadasa said.

He said women will be empowered in society, and a 25 percent minimum quota will be introduced to provincial councils, parliament and the national list, while ensuring safe public transport for women.

Premadasa said a dedicated national police unit will be set up to investigate and prevent sexual harassment against women, and a backlog of cases on sexual abuse will be processed.

He said a helpline to report sexual harassment will be further invested in and publicised while shelters and safehouses for abused women will be expanded into integrated crisis centres which include legal aid, medical services and counselling.

Premadasa’s environmental policies centre on resolving the human-elephant conflict, effective waste management and a switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

Premadasa said he would have zero tolerance for drugs and corruption, religious extremism and violence.

An accountable leadership free of conflicts of interest and nepotism will be installed, Premadasa said.

He said he would take establish a tough and smart national security strategy. (Colombo/Oct31/2019)

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