The country has lost over Rs. 6 billion in tax revenue, due to various MPs abusing the tax free vehicle permits provided to them by the Yahapalanaya government, which has gone back on its initial pledge, and is now following the footsteps of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa where tax-free permits for MPs were also abused.
This was revealed on Friday by public interest litigation activist and lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku in Supreme Court, when his Fundamental Rights Application (SCFR/214/2016) case was taken up. According to Kodituwakku, the MPs were selling the tax-free permits in the open market for a hefty price of over Rs. 25 million, which was both illegal and unethical.
Producing the evidence of vehicles already imported under the new MP permit scheme, Kodituwakku revealed the covert and manifestly illegal process that allow MPs to sell these permits to vehicle importers (with no restriction whatsoever imposed against selling of these permits) and how they misappropriate tax revenue chargeable on the vehicles with the vehicle importers, which in some cases is over 60 million rupees as tax on such luxury vehicles are charged at the rate 300%.
During the FR case, Kodituwakku also reminded how Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake who during his budget speech in November 2015 had condemned the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime for adopting an illegal car permit schemes that caused colossal revenue loss to the government and pledged the people to abolish such schemes altogether.
According to Kodituwakku due to similar actions adopted by the current government, who are also issuing such permits to MPs, the government has loss over Rs. 6 billion rupees in revenue, which also goes on to display that MPs pay no regard whatsoever to respect their Constitutional Oath that they have subscribed to, with a pledge to respect and honour the Constitution, the Rule of Law and the sovereignty in the people that they purely on trust.
Kodituwakku informed that court that the Section 3C of the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No 13 of 1989, which regulate such imports to impose stringent conditions against the abuse such tax exemptions, which include prior approval shall be obtained before the disposal of any such vehicle and to pay the all levies payment of which exempted at the time of importation. Therefore the activist submits to the court that all permits issued with no such conditions imposed violates the primary law under which they have been issued, making such permits manifestly unlawful for wanting of statutory authenticity and as such a mere nullity. The activist further submits that the issuance of these permits has been permitted by MS-MR administration ‘having no regard whatsoever to the economic benefit to the country’ which is compulsory under the Fiscal Management (Responsibility) Act No 3 of 2003, which requires that the government should ensure any fiscal policy it adopts to have regard to the financial impact of such decisions on future generations.
Therefore, Kodituwakku requested the Supreme Court to exercise the judicial power of the people it exercises purely on trust, to protect the democratic rights of the people and to deal with the wrongdoers decisively and appropriately and to become a symbol of hope for the people of Sri Lanka who have completely lost their confidence in the corrupt politicians who talk morality in public but practice completely the opposite whilst blatantly abusing the people’s legislative and executive powers.