Curbs on auto imports put thousands of jobs in peril, says CMTA

31 July 2020 10:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Wants clear govt. direction concerning import suspension period 
  • Urges need to regulate automotive imports by illegitimate importers

The Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA), the only trade association in Sri Lanka that represents automotive manufacturers through their local importers, yesterday urges the government to provide a clear direction on the period of the vehicle import suspension and emphasised the need to regulate automotive imports by illegitimate importers that have been vetted by the government.


“First and foremost, we appreciate the government’s leadership and initiatives taken to control the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. Our situation is far better than most countries around the world thanks to government’s action. 


However, the vehicle import ban has adversely impacted thousands of Sri Lankans and it is the responsibility of the government to communicate clearly to us as to when it will be lifted so that businesses and citizens can plan ahead. In addition to the lifting of the ban, the other key issue is for the government to introduce proper regulations to take the industry to the next level,” CMTA Chairman Yasendra Amerasinghe said. 


He added that CMTA plays a significant role in the transportation sector by acting as the bridge between Sri Lanka and automotive manufacturers worldwide. In 2019, CMTA commenced development of a policy recommendations document detailing a Future Mobility Plan for Sri Lanka. 


CMTA is working with international applied research agencies and international partners to create this proposal, which the association will present to the government upon its completion.

The CMTA consists of all the franchise holders of global automotive brands that import and market cars, commercial vehicles, 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers,as well as tyres and lubricants, with substantial investments into island-wide infrastructure to provide direct and indirect employment to over 20,000 individuals across the island. 


The Association noted that the complete suspension of all vehicle imports has caused great hardship to the entire industry. 


t requested the government to provide a firm timeline on when it plans to recommence imports and if the expected date is several months into the future, requests the government to provide support to the industry so that it can sustain its employees and overheads as importers will soon have no stocks and no vehicle sales income.


“We would very much like to have a constructive dialogue with the relevant government authorities to try to work out a mutually viable way forward,” Amerasinghe stressed. 


The Association stated that soon after the vehicle import suspension, the organisation submitted letters to relevant authorities requesting clear communication as to when the import restrictions are expected to be lifted in order to make plans to ensure the industry’s continuity. However, there had been no proper response to these requests leaving the industry uncertain of its future.


CMTA strongly believes that the government also needs to take steps to regulate automotive imports. It suggests the government to implement a scheme to screen and register vehicle importers to control the quality and quantity of motor vehicles imports. 


“This is a practice that is employed by almost all countries around the world and will provide assurance to consumers as they are buying a vehicle from a credible corporate entity and not unscrupulous operators,” CMTA said. 


At the moment, only about 30 percent of vehicle imports are through authorized importers. CMTA believes the government could considerably reduce foreign currency outflows, while also protecting Sri Lankan consumers and improving the standards of the automobile industry by introducing importer regulations.

 

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