The government intended to revise the import duties imposed on small cars and hybrid vehicles in the near future, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Parliament yesterday.
The Prime Minister expressed these sentiments in response to a question raised by Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardane in the House last afternoon.
The Prime Minister said the minimum duty rate of Rs 1.5 million for small cars with the engine capacity less than 1,000cc and the minimum duty rate of Rs 1.25 million for hybrid vehicles would be imposed as the increase of vehicle import expenditure had pushed the balance of payments to more negative levels.
Accordingly, he said the vehicle import expenditure within the first five months of 2018 had gone up to the US $ 666 million compared to the US $ 316 million recorded within the first five months of 2017.
The Prime Minister said that the expenditure incurred for the importation of small cars with engine capacity under 1,000cc and hybrid vehicles had accounted to 51 per cent of the total vehicle importation cost in 2017, while it had increased up to 78.9 per cent of the total vehicle import expenditure in 2018.
The Prime Minister refuted the claim made by Mr Bandula Gunawardane that those who opened Letters of Credit to import small cars before August this year were allowed to clear their vehicle by paying the earlier duty rates has been aimed at giving a concession to a selected group.
Mr Wickremesinghe assured that the Government would look into the gold importation scam, which Mr Gunawardane talked of.
Earlier, Mr Gunawardane said gold was being exported hidden in the sand, while the number of gold biscuits, coming into the country, had increased drastically. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)