All corporate eyes are on how politics and fiscal policy will play out – survey

Of the five pressing issues for business in Sri Lanka today, taxes trump all else with nearly half of respondents to the latest LMD-Nielsen Business Confidence Index (BCI) survey pointing in this direction- although it is noteworthy that eight in 10 said so in July. In terms of developments on the tax front, the cabinet recently approved a number of amendments to VAT. These include the lifting of value added tax on apartments that cost less than Rs.25 million and shifting the VAT payment date, as well as exempting housing units that have certificates of compliance from local government authorities or entered into sale agreements under the Notaries Ordinance before the VAT act was amended. Changes were also proposed to the Nation Building Tax (NBT) – for example, lifting NBT on tourist board registered hotels   provided that they collect payments through domestic commercial banks. As was the case in the previous month, political interference (23%) and inflation (22%) are next in line when it comes to the chief concerns within the corporate sphere – and here again, there is been an improvement   from July (59% and 33% respectively). The prevailing political culture remains the most pressing national issue facing Sri Lanka today, according to 70% of those consulted by the pollsters (July-86%). This poll was conducted at a time when the two main political parties were scrambling to confirm their candidates for the upcoming presidential election. Meanwhile, approximately a third of respondents state that the economy and poverty also warrant urgent national attention. – LMD

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