Opposition slams Govt. for legitimising 5,800 illegally imported vehicles

*Rs.1 min amnesty results in Rs. 12 bn duty loss


by Ravi Ladduwahetty

The UNP and JVP yesterday slammed the government for its attempt to legalise over 5,800 illegally imported vehicles by allowing them to be registered after a fine of one million rupee was paid.

The initial announcement came from the Director of Government Information, on Saturday (2), that an amnesty was being provided by the government for all those who had illegally imported vehicles.

Colombo District UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake and JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told The Island that it was indeed a paradox that the benefit of legalising the deals was given to fraudulent importers who were hand in glove with government politicians.

Karunanayake said: "Here, on the one hand, the government allows the importers, who are close to them, to fraudulently import these vehicles and on the other with the passage of time, they are given permission to register the illegally imported vehicles."

He said that the duty payable for all those illegally imported vehicles was around Rs. 3 million each, which meant that the government should have received over Rs. 17 billion in Customs revenue, but now it would mean that the government would get only Rs. 5.8 billion with the fine of Rs. 1 million per vehicle. That showed that the government would be losing around Rs. 12 billion in revenue due to the fraudulent deal, he said.

Karunanayake explained that the government had no option but to take the current path as three Directors General of Sri Lanka Customs had refused to allow registration of those vehicles under consideration and one of them had been punished with a transfer to the Treasury.

Meanwhile, Dissanayake said that though the available number of those illegal vehicles was 5,800, the actual number could be much more. He queried how those vehicles had been cleared from the Colombo Port without Customs clearance.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Kumara Welgama, when contacted by The Island for comment, said that he was unaware of such a situation and that he needed more time to find out what had happened.

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