Licencee Fee For Car Importers
By Chrishanthi Christopher
The car importing industry is being subject to repeated blows by a cash strapped government which is trying hurriedly to bridge its balance of payment deficit.
In a new move the government has decided to charge a licensee fee on all franchise holders in the car importing industry.
According to Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA), Chairman, Tilak Gunasekera the government has sent a directive to all franchise holders in the car industry that they be licensed a sum of Rs.25 million annually for the trade.
The meeting that was to take place on June 07, headed by Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera had beenn called off by the government. However a fresh date of June 25 has been set to discuss the matter.
“We are totally against this licensing and no where in the world is this being done and Sri Lanka is creating a precedence by imposing this fee” says Gunasekera
“Already our industry is suffering with the tariff increase on importation of cars in the March’s mini budget and now this enormous fee is being levied … it is too much of a blow to the industry” says Gunasekera.
Gunasekera says that motor vehicles are increasingly becoming elusive to the common man and that only politicians, the exceptionally rich or permit holders can afford to own a car now.
He says that the move to impose a license on all franchise holders in the car importing industry will have an ‘adverse effect’ as the industry will try to retrieve the levy from the customer and eventually the customer will be at the receiving end. “Even the bank interest rates have gone up shooting up the car prices even further” he added.
Additionally customers are burdened with the cost of carrying vehicles to Colombo from Hambantota Port with the government’s recent decision to direct all vehicle carriers to the Megamupura Mahinda Rajapaksha Port.
Around another extra Rs. 50,000 is being added to the cost of the vehicle as transport charges to carry the vehicles to Colombo by road car carriers.
Gunasekera says that the industry will be asking the government to totally waive off the proposed licensing fee. For this purpose all CEOs of leading motor car importing companies will be present at the meeting. Among them will be representatives of Sathosa Motors, Toyota Motors, Diesel & Motor Engineering, Car Mart, Associated Motors and United Motors.
Gunasekera also says that he hopes to take up the representations made one month ago by car importers to waive off the imposition of new tariff on all cars ordered before the tariff increase in March.
“Although President Rajapaksa had passed on the request made by us to the Treasury Secretary in early April, so far nothing has happened,” he says.
A leading importer in the industry says that the government has to take swift decision on the waiver of tariff to avoid another congestion at the Hambantoa port. “Customers who let their vehicles collect at the Colombo Port yard expecting a waiver of tariff on vehicles imported before the mini budget in March have now cleared their vehicles The government is shuffling its feet on the issue and with more vehicles to arrive end of June it is imperative that the government takes a decision early.