Vehicle importers are facing a severe crisis with the vehicle clearing process at the Sri Lanka Customs been currently halted, resulting in the importers having to pay unnecessary demurrages for vehicles not cleared within the specified period.
After the Yahapalana government came into power, the valuation process of motor vehicles for tax purposes, which was riddled with corruption, was revamped and a Special Committee appointed to determine the minimum value for all motor vehicles for customs purposes was disbanded. The new government replaced the valuation committee with a new committee headed by the Director General of Customs (DGC).
However, it is now learnt that the new valuation database determined by the new committee headed by the DGC and published in the Customs website for the information of the importers is incorrect as the senior officers who have been appointed to the committee to advise and assist the DGC and the Minister have deliberately setup another false valuation database, compelling the halt of the clearing process until further notice. This has caused immense hardship to the trade, but heavy revenue to the government.
Click here for the customs minimum values.
It is learnt that the customs officers deliberately set up this false value base to derail the government’s initiative to recover levies on the true values of motor vehicles obtained from the manufactures and published as minimum value for customs purposes. Once this process comes into operation the Finance Minister has ruled that levies recovered on the minimum value as determined by the Ministry, no penal sanctions as provided by the Customs law should be invoked against any importer.
This stand taken by the Minister has made Customs officers to disrupt the government’s new revenue collection initiate on motor vehicles as the officers have been denied opportunity to claim cash rewards from the penalties imposed on the importers.