New MPs to get duty free vehicle permits shortly

Recipients entitled to USD 50,000 loan



By Shamindra Ferdinando


Those Provincial Council members as well as professionals who had obtained duty-free vehicle permits during the past five years wouldn’t be entitled for the same facility, though being elected to the eighth parliament, authoritative sources told The Island.


Among 63 new entrants to parliament were many Provincial Council members, sources said, adding that the issuing of duty-free car permits would be one of the priorities at the onset of the new parliamentary term.


Parliament is scheduled to meet again on Sept 22. However, a two-day workshop will be held next week for the benefit of newly elected members.


A senior parliamentary official said the issuance of duty-free permits could get underway with the setting up of the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry. Among the lucky recipients of duty free facility would be those who have been accommodated through the National List in spite of being rejected by the electorate.


Political parties accommodated seven (UPFA), two (JVP), two (TNA) and one (UNP) defeated candidates via the National List.


Thanks to the previous SLFP-led UPFA administration, members could now obtain a permit with much higher value, sources said. The UPFA increased the value of duty-free vehicle permits from USD 35,000 to 50,000 soon after parliamentary polls in April 2010.


Responding to a query, a former MP said that many had forgotten that a duty free vehicle permit each was provided to all members including ministers entitled for three official vehicles each. The politician admitted that successive governments had failed to take tangible measures to prevent recipients from selling the duty free vehicle permits. In addition to politicians, state-issued duty free permits were routinely abused by professionals entitled to the facility, he said. Recipients had sold permits and also imported vehicles to be sold and major vehicle importers deal with such permits with impunity, sources said.


Members of parliament as well as several professionals are entitled to duty free vehicle permits once in every five years.


Sources acknowledged that there was no mechanism to monitor the process even though an MP was entitled for credit up to USD 50,000 from a bank to open a letter of credit to import a vehicle.


Eastern Provincial Council member Amir Ali (SLMC) obtained a duty free vehicle permit late last year soon after filling the vacancy created by the resignation of UPFA National List MP A. H.M. Azwer.


In addition to duty free vehicles, members are provided a range of perks and privileges including a substantial allocation of foreign exchange when they go overseas, medical facilities, pension as well as subsidized meals.


The eighth parliament comprised 106 elected on the UNP ticket, including one on SLMC ticket, 95 on UPFA, 16 on TNA and six on JVP.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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