Written by Tharushan Fernando
04 Jan, 2017 | 7:30 pm
The foundation stone for a vehicle assembly plant in Kuliyapitiya was laid yesterday.
Claims were made in the past that the plant would be a Volkswagen assembly plant, however is this a Volkswagen assembly plant? If not what will this assembly plant manufacture?
In December 2015 Prime Minister,Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the new chairman of Volkswagen announced that the plant will be delayed in-order to ascertain the income, expenses and the investment,however the primary investment will be made by Senok, thereafter they will be coming in.
The foundation stone for a assembly plant was laid in Kuliyapitiya based on an agreement signed between Senok Automobiles and the BOI.
Senok Automobiles are the sole agent in Sri Lanka for Volkswagen, Audi and Subaru.
Based on the agreement signed between the BOI and Senok Automobiles the vehicles produced through the plant will be sold in the country for a period of 3 years.
Chairman of the BOI,Attorney-at-Law, Upul Jayasuriya said that the agreement was signed to create an assembly plant and based on the agreement the investment will be 25.5 million dollars
He added that in addition to the assembly plant there will also be a training center and approval has been granted to assembly around 500 cars a year.
“If they are to begin exporting, they should utilize more than 35% of local raw materials ..” he said
Additional Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Motor Traffic, A.A.S. Jayaweera said that ‘they’ must be registered with the department before they begin producing new vehicles
He explained that there are 2 such plants in operation through the BOI and the Kuliyapitiya plant or the Volkswagen plant, needs to definitely complete the registration process with the DMT if cars are to released in to the local markets
The President of Vehicle Importers Association of Lanka,Sampath Merenchige explained that the country is in risk of loosing tax revenue .
“The taxes we pay on vehicles as permanent importers and the taxes paid when a vehicle is imported in pieces and assembled here are totally different.”he explained
He noted that 50 to 60% of the national revenue depends on the income of the customs department and 40% of the customs revenue is based on the taxes on vehicles.
Convenor for the Voice Against Corruption ,Wasantha Samarasinghecharged that that the Volkswagen agent in Sri Lanka has been given the green light to bring in parts and assemble the car in the country
He added that during the opening ceromony there was no one present because this is “simply a show being put on by the Government ..”
Former President,Mahinda Rajapaksa charged that it is unsure if this is Volkswagen
He explained that this land is a valuable land which was set aside for a university and now this land was given over to a private company.
“What this company will do with this land in Kurunegala, we are not aware of it.”he said
He went on to add that in the end ‘they’ will create broken cars and give them to the people of this country and will not be able to export a single car and will be bringing down the car in pieces and welding it together here.
“They are trying to do what is done in secret in a legal manner ..” said the former president
Co-Cabinet Spokesperson,Min. Gayantha Karunathilaka said that the work on a car assembly plant has commenced in Kuliyapitiya and there will be a number of plants being opened in the next 2 weeks while employment will be provided for 20,000 people
Co-Cabinet Spokesperson,Min. Rajitha Senaratne added that Volkswagen will simply not give the power to reproduce their logos if they cannot assure quality and their experts will be brought down here and this will begin with these expertise.
“This is how China started.”he said
He further added that they will have to adhered to certain standards and maintain the quality of the product, else they will not be able to use the Volkswagen brand name.
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