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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has announced a “black protest week” starting January 23 if there is no favourable response from the government to their grievances over what they claim is an unfair personal income tax hike.

GMOA Secretary Haritha Aluthge told reporters following a meeting with State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya on Monday January 01 that the latter had promised to take the matter up with President and Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a discussion to be held on Thursday January 04.

Sri Lanka’s revised tax regime came into effect on January 01 2023, with the cash-strapped government increasing personal income tax in order to boost state revenue amidst the country’s worst currency crisis in decades.

“If there is no favourable response by Thursday, the GMOA will go ahead with an already planed ‘black protest week’ from January 23 onwards,” said Aluthge.

Speaking to journalists in the wake of the meeting with representatives of the GMOA and other professional bodies, State Minister Siyambalapitiya defended the tax hike.

“Government expenditure is 300 percent higher than government revenue. Up to 3.4 million families need government assistance for survival. That’s 60% of all families. If we don’t increase government revenue, the alternative is to take loans. Can we take loans at present?

“The other issue is if money is printed, inflation can increase several fold,” he said.

The state minister said the professional bodies had submitted a report highlighting their grievances and proposed alternatives.

“We shall forward that report to the Finance Minister this week and we expect to consider in detail what options we can take,” he said. (Colombo/Jan03/2022)

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