Daily Mirror - Print Edition

Heavy taxes for public, duty free vehicles for MPs, senior officials?

30 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • MPs perturbed whether they will lose this benefit in case of premature parliamentary dissolution 
  • Govt. to lift import ban on vehicles 

By Kelum Bandara 

Despite the public being heaped with tax burdens and a soaring cost of living, parliamentarians, along with public servants in the executive category, are set to get concessionary vehicle permits soon, the Daily Mirror learns.   
As many as 102 MPs out of the total 225 in the House had placed their signatures by yesterday on a letter submitted to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena asking for permits to import vehicles under duty-free conditions. Many more are planning to join the request in the days to come.   
The MPs who served in the previous Parliaments received such permits. However, the MPs who were elected to the House at the 2020 General Election did not receive this benefit because of the economic crisis.   
An informed source, on condition of anonymity, told the Daily Mirror that the MPs, particularly those elected for the first time, are concerned whether they will be deprived of this benefit in case Parliament is dissolved ahead of the time scheduled for 2025. The Presidential Election is due to be conducted in early October this year. Whoever wins, it is likely that Parliament will be dissolved soon after to get a fresh mandate to form a new government and a Cabinet.   
The MPs’ request will be referred to the House Committee for approval. According to the source, concessionary vehicle permits will be issued to MPs in terms of a common criterion applicable to executive graders in the public service, such as doctors.   
In the past, it was common to note the MPs selling off their vehicle permits to wealthy businessmen and earning multi-million rupees. Businessmen who secure permits are used to import luxury vehicles using duty-free benefits.   
The government is now planning to scrap the ban on vehicle imports.