The Sunday Leader

Stretched Luxury For Sri Lanka

By Faraz Shauketaly

The Chrysler 300c limousine and The white Prado limousine

As coconuts retailed at Rs 60, leeks at Rs 150, green chillies Rs. 500, tomatoes Rs 372 – all per kilo — and the Army selling vegetables to stabilise prices, the world’s first stretch Prado limousine arrived in Colombo last Wednesday. On Thursday, a similar super luxury vehicle – a Chevrolet 300c stretch limo — cleared Customs. Both cars cost the importer, a cool Rs. 16 million – thanks in part to a quirk in Customs regulations which permitted the cars to be imported as buses.
Both vehicles were shipped from Los Angeles, California by a trio of Sri Lankan expatriates with connections in Australia and Japan. In a staggering indication of diversity and choice, whilst the bulk of the country creaked under the weight of sky rocketing prices and most providers of the traditional ‘buth packet’ trimming the content, the import of these super luxury vehicles provided a rare comparison of the widening ‘wealth divide’ in Sri Lanka.
Amila Perera, representing the trio of entrepreneurs, confirmed that the Prado limousine, virginal white in colour is a petrol guzzling 4,000 cc 2010 model and was the first ever Prado that had been stretched. The Prado is approximately 23 feet in length and its interior is packed with goodies that the rich and the not so rich would drool over. In essence it epitomizes superior wealth.
A quirk in Customs regulations meant that in spite of the Prado costing a declared value of USD 50,712 the duty and other fiscal levies were a trifling Rs 1.19 million. The 3500 cc, 2009, silver coloured Chevrolet 300 limousine was valued at USD 41,015  and attracted duty and other levies totaling Rs 4.73 million. The quirk was that as the limousines had multiple seats – the Prado seating 18 and the Chevrolet 13, they were imported as buses.
By contrast a Toyota Vitz 1,000cc, 2007 model,  imported last week, and valued at Rs 1.3 million attracted duty and levies of Rs 865,000. A customs spokesman confirmed that the Toyota agent in Sri Lanka was unable to provide a valuation for the Prado and that Customs then went on the ‘transacted value’ as per information provided by the importers, Prestige Limousines. He also suggested that if the Vitz had a seating capacity of 18 like the Prado limousine, then it would have attracted a lower rate of duty.
Saranga Galapatthi, the owner of a private bus company operating on the Colombo Tangalle route, said that his buses were 24 feet in length and wondered how these two 240 inch (20 feet) stretched limousines would cope on the narrow roads of Sri Lanka. A car importer suggested there was nothing wrong in the full variety of motor cars being available in Sri Lanka provided that all regulations were met and all levies paid.
Adding to the diversity and general confusion, it is important to remember that in his New Year message, President Rajapaksa called on the nation to be austere in these difficult economic times. With one car dealer predicting that these vehicles would sell for Rs 10 and 18 million each and could be hired out at Rs 100,000 per day – without the drinks – served in its ‘onboard bar’ Sri Lanka’s predicted boom in its economy is headed in diverse directions.

ONLY A BUS DRIVER
The irony is that nobody other than those with a bus driver’s license can drive these super luxury stretch limos.

44 Comments for “Stretched Luxury For Sri Lanka”

  1. Rah

    This a simple luxury in Sydney for us.Some times we party on these $ 600 Per Hr.

    Also it been hred for wedding hires , party drop and pick up’s

    Plenty available in Sydney.The other day one of these was parked frony of mu house.

    • Dan

      Its true that you get snow in Ausi. bt u don’t get the tropical climate through out the year over there. Shame on u. Please be down to earth when u r commenting next time. Remember this “you live in Ausi because you are not as smart enough to earn as much money in SL. So once u get a limo by your own make a comment like that.

      • NeutralTamil

        @Dan,
        1.it doesnt snow in australia.
        2.its not like people in SL r smarter than others. people live where they like.

        @Rah,
        empty vessel makes the most noise

    • Hari

      You talk like you own one. They all belong to someone else and you can only afford to hire one.

    • gundappa

      a stretch limo parked outside your house in Sydney does not make you the owner of the car.

      Get this menatlity off your brain…. if you have one

  2. Mossad

    if those people have money , they can import whatever vehicles they wish as long as they don’t commit something illegal….

  3. Mala Jones

    dukaki ……..

  4. NeutralTamil

    dear friends,
    “sacrifices today for a better tomorrow” n tomorrow, again, “sacrifices today for a better tomorrow”, n then one day before u die,”sacrifices today for a better tomorrow”.
    tomorrow may never come…lol

    • NeutralTamil

      i have nothing against the billionaires buying some luxury cars with their hard earned money. we r not a jvp communist country. i welcome rich people spending money, so money gets circulated.
      ALL I SAY IS, DONT ASK ME TO sacrifices today for a better tomorrow coz i belong to the mass not so rich column in this poor country.

  5. Yakolis

    Why not get a few more? We could then have Mobile Super Brothels and Casinos for “You Know Who” !

  6. BribeKing

    Customs must have got a huge bribe to list them under bus category. These are ‘luxury vehicles’ of the ‘luxury vehicles’. Even a 4 year old can understand that. Only happens in Sri Lanka.

    • Hari

      It’s ok to have some luxury wheels running on our streets anyway. They should have more concessions on vehicle imports. That gives some face lift to our streets.

      It’s depressing to see mostly old and cheap cars running on our streets.

    • Ela Kolla

      I think it’s great to see such luxury vehicles in SL.. ofcos the ppl who got them down are foolish, cos there’s not a single road in SL that those vehicles can handle. but whoever it is, the fact that you have that much money to throw away.. Kudos !! You have achived alot within this poor country. second, the article says it’s a Chevy 300c its not.. it’s a Crysler.. The Chevy has Limo’s of the Corvett and Tahoe to my knowledge..

  7. sri

    One bit of info is missing. Who are the lucky owners? Kaapalla, beepalla, jollykarappala, tomorrow will never come for the rest of of us!

  8. Suren

    Most Srilankans are lazy and envy about business people buying cars. forever they are going to undermine them, We should not care about lazy people. If the people wants country want to be out of poverty they should workand hard not blaming business people and their life stye.

  9. carlos

    Are they Lhd or Rhd?

  10. Soorya

    Sri Lanka needs more hearses.

  11. Watcher

    First I felt angry and then funny. So no crime has committed, just managed to get through legal loopholes! Good job!

    I’m sure, who ever got this imported are getting ready for future casino boom in Sri Lanka.

    Welcome to Miracle of Asia!

  12. What a shame. Poor people are unable to meet their ends meet. The people who have, have sufficient money to purchase ‘luxury vehicles’. What sought of tax system is there in Sri Lanka. If a stable Government like the present Government is unable to keep the cost of living high sky rocketing, what could the poor masses expect from the present Government, in the future?.

  13. Flinders Street

    I agree these cars are just party and leisure cars for us who live in a beautiful rich and wealthy country like Australia. I feely sorry for you people who have never seen cars like this.

    • Hari

      You confirm that you have only seen Srilanka and Australia.
      In Srilanka there are a lots of people who travel the world often and enjoy the luxuries to the fullest. Not everyone beg for a Aussie passport because you are good for nothing in Srilanka.
      Australia is far below in luxury when compared with lots of other countries. To know for yourself travel the world, life is short.

  14. Cham

    group of people in Sri Lanka does have a lot of money and majority does not. It is wrong to ask the majority to stop enjoying thier life as they wish because of many poor people exists. What’s the government do is tax high earners and businesses properly them they can reduce the cost of living , especially water, electricit and gas bills for domestic users etc. Trying to bring donw the basic food prices etc. Whta’s happening is that rich are joining with the politicians and profifitng from county’s resorces and correct dues are not going to the tax system accordingly.

  15. LankaLiar

    Another white van

  16. shya

    this is wonderful example of our income distribution and our greediness toward luxury. technically nothing wrong but mentally bankrupt.

  17. mel

    stop being so negative. These vehicles may not be your cup of tea, but let anyone who has the means and desire to import them as long as they abide by the law.

  18. Tony Waters

    The importation of these vehicles reflects not only the widening gap twixt rich and poor in Sri Lanka, but also the rise of truly bad taste.

    Soon after the Cheney-Bush régime was appointed to office by the U.S. Supreme Court, the CIA drew up plans to fit the Vice-President with a ‘Pinocchio nose’ as an experiment. The problem, they soon realized, was that his stretch limo would soon be too long to negotiate turns and roundabouts in Washington D.C. Twenty feet is longer than most people’s living rooms!

  19. anna

    The first person’s comment is really base. Much of the country is drowning in debt and lack of fiscal power and a small minority is displaying a vulgarity of wealth beyond reason!

    Ane apoii ape ratata giya kala

  20. duminda

    its a good think to see these types of vehicles operating in our country, provided the import is done in the normal and fair way what i understand the importer paid far less customs and import duty for this luxury vehicle. an ordinary middle class citizen cant buy a vehicle for less then 2.5 million because the customs duty on the vehicles are more then the cost of the vehicle. government must be fair to every one

  21. gundappa

    At least there are two stretch limos in SL

    Hooray our lives have been enriched, beyond imagination

  22. Ozzie

    Rah
    Flinders Street
    big nothing yourselves
    shame on you. Crawl under the rocks you crept from and stay there

  23. Truepatriot

    I agree with a lot of the comments here…
    If we really are a democracy, if you have the money and you have earned it legally, then by all means go ahead and spend it…
    It isn’t like they are syphoning out tax rupees for this…
    The truth is the wealth divide is only getting bigger due to one of the reasons higlighted by “Cham” – Improper taxation, among other things…
    Instead of complaining about it, spend that time trying to make something of yourself – fine you don’t have to try and be all super-rich and powerful, but at least you can be in a ‘better place’ than you are now…

  24. Ivor Biggin

    While the countries economic situation worsens, and it’s position in the international community deteriorates, some fools are deciding to import stretched limo’s.

    To Dan – I think you need to go back and re-think your statement, firstly Australia has one of the most diverse climates in the world. In answer to your question Queenland has tropical weather all year round, and also contains ranges which have a high degree of snow fall. Not very intelligent are you, by the way I own a Maserati which was bought with money which was earned without corruption bribery or greed.

  25. Dandy rangers

    Ivor Bigggin, good on you mate for standing up for Aus. It is the best country in the world. I have lived in Europe and the US and I know the difference. SL is corrupt and filthy. There is nothing more to say.

  26. Chatura

    Poor third world mentality.Monkey see- monkey do!!! And all these who comment about the cars.This is just bling- bling .Everything that shines is not necessarily gold neither important.
    Whoever rent these cars must get their brains weighed.

  27. pinky

    there are people who can afford to buy this type of vehicles, it is not a problem. If and when the Government is importing such expensive vehicles for ministers it becomes a problem

  28. RATHNASIRI

    It is good to see such vehicles in Srilankan roads…!

  29. German

    Live well.SL is beautiful country and live by majority choice like in all democracies. Unfortunately the majority are not politically matured enough to understand the hoodwinkers, cheats, corrupts (the political lot-most of them.
    So limos are good for the “poor” to feel as if alls well, but really it is to the contrary.

  30. German

    Dan, you have to read up(as you said) and be a smart S.Lankan. Australia, as I heard, is supposed to be one of the nice countries, where some law and order is maintained and has diverse climate and weather conditions. Now they are getting hammered by adverse weather-floods and cyclones, poor fellows.
    Me thinks, that customs have been cheated out of duties by importing them as buses- these stretch limos are luxury vehicles.

  31. CJ

    The Chrysler & the Prado are both Right Hand Driven… I saw the driver parking both these at the parking lot of an Un-disclosable apartment complex between moratuwa and mount lavinia.

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