Sri Lanka’s new government announces tax cuts

November 28, 2019 GMT
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, file photo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sits for photographs with his new cabinet members in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, file photo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sits for photographs with his new cabinet members in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, file photo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sits for photographs with his new cabinet members in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, file photo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sits for photographs with his new cabinet members in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, file photo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sits for photographs with his new cabinet members in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s new government has announced sweeping tax cuts and reforms in a bid to provide relief to the masses ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year.

The Cabinet decided Wednesday to cut the value added tax to 8% from 15%, effective Dec. 1, and to abolish seven other taxes, including a 2% nation building tax paid by businesses.

The Cabinet also announced that all religious institutions are exempted from taxes.

The government’s information department said the decisions were made in the first Cabinet meeting since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as president.

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It said that apart from the VAT tax cut, other changes were to take effect immediately.

Rajapaksa promised sweeping tax relief during the recent presidential election. He also vowed to strengthen national security and revive the fragile economy.

The island nation’s ailing economy suffered a severe blow due to an Easter Sunday attack by Islamic extremists that left more than 260 dead and nearly 500 wounded.