Lawyer asks Mangala if he intends to strip MPs of duty free vehicle permits Govt. move to halt super luxury vehicle imports
Posted on September 28th, 2018

by Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Attorney-at-law and public litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku, yesterday, said that Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera should explain what he really meant when he said that the super luxury vehicle imports wouldn’t be allowed next year.

Kodituwakku was commenting on Samaraweera’s declaration at an event at the Royal College, Colombo on Thursday (Sept 27) that the importation of super luxury vehicles by members of parliament and others should be stopped forthwith. Underscoring the growing oil import bill, Samaraweera vowed to halt such imports against the backdrop of financial difficulties.

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Samaraweera said that the only way to artificially control the rapid depreciation of the Rupee was to release USD held by the government. Samaraweeara said that however, as the Minister holding the finance portfolio he wasn’t prepared to release funds as such funds were required to settle foreign debt.

Samaraweera also warned that a barrel of crude would go up to USD in case of a conflict between the US and Iran.

Kodituwakku said that the Finance Minister should explain whether he intended to abolish the special duty free permit scheme implemented for the benefit of members of parliament. Responding to a query by The Island, Kodituwakku said that successive governments owed an explanation as to why duty free exemption was gradually increased at the expense of the national economy.

Kodituwakku said that finally minister had been compelled to admit the catastrophic financial crisis caused by uncontrolled import of luxury vehicles. Having failed to convince the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) to inquire into duty free vehicle scam involving members of parliament, Kodituwakku said that he moved the Supreme Court against the CIABOC. Minister Samaraweera’s statement couldn’t have been made at a better time, Kodituwakku recalling Samaraweera’s predecessor Ravi Karunanayake in his first budget presentation in 2015 promising to do away with duty free vehicle schemes for lawmakers as part of the overall measures to strengthen the national economy.

Kodituwakku said that instead of abolishing the scheme, Karunanayake paved the way for members of the current parliament to import duty free vehicles, with each tax exemption amounting to at least Rs 30mn. The majority of those vehicles had been sold and the identities of the buyers, too, were known to the Finance Ministry, Kodituwakku said, challenging the Finance Ministry to release the list of buyers and sellers which he (Kodituwakku) obtained from the Customs under the Right to Information (RTI) law.

Kodituwakku said that all political parties represented in parliament should explain their stand on special perks and privileges received by them at a heavy cost to the national economy. Kodituwakku said that his RTI query had revealed that except six JVP lawmakers in parliament, all other political parties and the Joint Opposition members had brazenly abused the permit scheme.

Kodituwakku urged the Finance Ministry to examine recent CIABOC declaration that transfer of vehicles imported on duty free permits wasn’t contrary to the law.

2 Responses to “Lawyer asks Mangala if he intends to strip MPs of duty free vehicle permits Govt. move to halt super luxury vehicle imports”

  1. Randeniyage Says:

    Sirisena crying for Murunaga eating family after importing a Luxury Land Cruiser !
    It is people who put these politicians on the Murunga Atte.
    All of those who imported vehicles with their signatures just to sell soon after landing are simply thieves and should be in jail. They have no right to talk about hardships of people. This include professionals.
    Without stopping these crimes how can we progress ?
    Way too much privileges and unnecessary security to our parliamentarians and this should be stopped giving top priority.

  2. Nimal Says:

    We should never allow duty free vehicles for any one.

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