Rs.40bn loss from duty-free imports turns spotlight on vehicles for MPs

Rs.40bn loss from duty-free imports turns spotlight on vehicles for MPs

Rs.40bn loss from duty-free imports turns spotlight on vehicles for MPs

Written by Staff Writer

12 Jul, 2016 | 9:31 pm

The recent budget of the government revealed that the government incurs a loss of Rs.40 billion when vehicles are imported to the country on a duty free basis.

However, duty free vehicles for MPs continue to reach Sri Lankan shores. A petition was also filed with the Supreme Court citing that the duty-free permit granted to MPs is in violation of the law.This petition will be taken up on the 18th.

Taking into account the losses caused to the government via duty-free permits, on one ocassion, it was decided to cancel the issuing of duty-free vehicle permits to parliamentarians. However, on May 2, that decision was reversed and it was decided to provide all MPs with duty free vehicle permits.

In June, the government presented a supplementary estimate seeking Rs. 1.17 billion to import brand new vehicles for cabinet, state and deputy ministers. Funds were allocated after this move to purchase vehicles for 32 ministers, state minister and deputy ministers attached to 22 ministries.

Although a decision was reached to postpone the importing of vehicles, vehicles are being imported under the permits issued to MPs.

Provisions have been made for MPs to import duty free vehicles under an Excise Special Provisions Act. The act notes that the minister may, having regard to the economic development of the country by Order published in the Gazette, be exempt from the payment of the excise duty payable under this Act, any such excisable articles,or any such class or description of excisable articles as are or is specified in such Order subject to such condition as may be specified in the Order.

It notes that where any such Order is so revoked, the excise Dduty payable on the exempted articles shall be paid by the manufacturer, producer, importer or consignee of such article, to the Director-General, and such Excise Duty may be recovered under the provisions of this Act.

Attorney-at-Law Nagananda Kodituwakku, challenging this duty free permit system notes that the above condition is never imposed on any permit issued by the government.

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