Sri Lanka suspends Parliament ahead of snap polls

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s new president suspended Parliament for a month from yesterday ahead of snap elections he wants to call in March to consolidate his sweeping victory.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, elected president last month in a landslide, issued a proclamation overnight proroguing the legislature and said a new session will begin from January 3.

Rajapaksa, 70, is hoping to ride a wave of popularity by calling an election six months before the current Parliament’s five-year term expires in August.

He has already ordered major tax cuts in a bid to boost an economy still struggling after deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings that crippled the country’s booming tourism sector. A 15-per cent value-added tax was cut to eight per cent, while another two per cent goods and services tax was abolished from this month.

The construction industry – which has slumped hard this year – also saw its corporate tax burden cut from 28 to 14 per cent.

The announcement of calling a fresh session of the legislature will give the minority government of Rajapaksa more control over parliamentary oversight committees.