Luxury vehicles for MPs and a “deserving burden” for the people

Luxury vehicles for MPs and a “deserving burden” for the people

Luxury vehicles for MPs and a “deserving burden” for the people

Written by Staff Writer

19 Dec, 2016 | 11:31 pm

A fundamental rights petition has been filed against the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) by an Attorney-at-Law, who seeks redress from the Supreme Court for “failing to investigate a complaint” which was lodged by him over MP’s reselling their duty-free vehicles to others.

In his petition, Attorney-at-Law Nagananda Kodithuwakku says that the CIABOC has failed to execute its statutory duties by failing to act on a plausible complaint lodged by him on corruption against the Members of Parliament and the Cabinet Ministers who have “patently abused the public office to defraud the government’s tax-revenue for unjust enrichment”

The petition cites 93 respondents including the Attorney General, the Prime Minister and 83 members of parliament. Kodithuwakku has also submitted to court -based on information he had received from the Motor Traffic Department Commissioner’s office- information on 27 members of parliament who had resold vehicles to third parties.

“The customs duty for a Hummer from America is about Rs. 43 million. It is about Rs. 33.5 million for a Toyota Land Cruiser. They have been given permits to import vehicles bypassing all these taxes. They sell these permits on the open market for 25 to 30 million.”

Following is a numeral breakdown by Attorney-at-Law Kodituwakku:

Cost of a vehicle mentioned above: Rs. 42 million in total to import. Cost for vehicles of all 225 MPs: Approx. Rs. 7 billion

So when about 25 to 30 million goes to the Minister,

Vehicle cost – Rs. 8 million Vendor – Rs. 5 to 6 million

“42 million in tax rupees which should be going to the people, has been deprived.”

“Section 70 of the Bribery Act clearly states that it is a criminal offence if any government official, acts in a way to confer a benefit, favor or advantage on himself or any person.”

While Parliamentarians have been given permits to import vehicles duty free, a proposal has been put forward for 58 selected MPs to lease luxury motor vehicles. Of the 58 MPs only one has refused. Further examination of the petition filed at the Supreme Court also reveals that several MP’s who had sold their permits to third parties, are among the 58 who will be receiving luxury motor vehicles.

17.11.2016

According to Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake – the monthly lease amount for the 58 MPs is Rs. 590,000 – without VAT and NBT, and Rs. 700,000 with VAT and NBT.

Anura Kumara said, a cabinet paper was put forward by the Finance Ministry to provide vehicles for a monthly lease of Rs. 700,000 and that the paper has been forwarded to the Economic Committee on the 31st of October. “Honorable Speaker, the VAT comes into effect from the 1st of November. On the 31st of October, the Economic Committee makes a decision and informs the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to import the vehicles after selecting a company.”

The Chief Opposition Whip reminded that “all MP’s receive a permit” and that the vehicles to be obtained on a 60 month lease (while the permit remains) is “higher than the market value”. “It is clear that it would cost about 42 million and that the government will have to pay Rs. 2,436 million for these 58 MP’s. It is also being said that even after paying this sum, the state will not have ownership of the vehicles. So there is a reasonable suspicion of serious financial fraud.

According to Anura Kumara:

The MPs terms – another 45 months

Lease agreement duration – 60 months

Anura Kumara: “How can this be done? This is a ransom”

 Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Mass Media has said that the documents pertaining to the leasing of vehicles – have not been signed.

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