Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Cultural Affairs and Wayamba Development and UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma‘s brand new Toyota Land Cruiser is now for sale. This Land Cruiser is imported from Japan with a duty free vehicle permit, which resulted in the country losing millions of rupees in revenue.
According to the Sri Lanka Customs’ declaration form the actual cost of the imported vehicle is stated as Rs 9.2 million even though MP Thewarapperuma has advertised to sell it for Rs 39 million. He had only paid to government Rs 1,750.00 as Customs’ paperwork fees.
A whopping sum of Rs 33,457,500.00 is the total loss to the government as the stated amount in the customs import papers that has been waived off for this purpose.
At least 77 MPs in Parliament have used their duty free permits to purchase luxury vehicles in 2016 alone, which has resulted in the country losing billions of rupees in revenue.
Most of the vehicles that have been imported have been Toyota Land Cruisers, Hummers, BMW’s and Mercedes Benz. In July, lawyer and rights activist Nagananda Kodituwakku told the Supreme Court that the MPs instantly make as much as Rs. 25 million for each permit they sold, which they receive free of charge from the government.
Meanwhile issuing a statement the Friday Forum said: “The ugly practice of Parliamentarians selling duty-free vehicles, enabling them to make profits in millions of rupees, must be stopped immediately. The profits they make, in place of the taxes they have been exempted from paying, rightfully belong in state coffers. Various justifications have been given by Ministers of all governments and Members of Parliament for continuing what is an outrageous, if not illegal, practice.”
“Ironically, these justifications are now voiced at a time when a controversial tax – VAT –has been increased, and other measures are in hand to address a serious national debt crisis. These sales of vehicles imported duty free appear to be tolerated by the government as a way of providing MP’s with financial resources to fulfill their public duties. In no sense is this legitimate. Subsidies to any one – be they farmers or parliamentarians – must be authorized through the national budget that is subject to public scrutiny.” the Friday Forum further said.
Readers can compare the Engine Number and the Chassis Number of the vehicle in the advert (for sale of Toyota Land Cruiser imported on MP permit) with the same information provided in the import declaration presented for Customs purposes and the tax-waiver granted for this vehicle.