The Sunday Leader

Vehicle Permits For MPs Grossly Abused

by Hafsa Sabry

MP Wimal Weerawansa

Tax-free vehicle permits given to Parliamentarians have allegedly been misused violating the regulations of the Motor Traffic Act as the vehicles were registered under MP’s names and were owned by other businessmen in the country. About 35 such vehicles registered under the name of Parliamentarians were being used by individuals violating the law.

The Sunday Leader learns that a Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep (chassis number JTMHV05J404202354) imported on a permit issued in the name of MP Wimal Weerawansa, evading the payment of fiscal levies of Rs. 33,459,250.00, has been registered under his name (Reg. No CAT 9797) and is being used by the current owner without effecting the necessary transfer, an act of which is prohibited by Section 12 of the Motor Traffic Act No. 8 of 2009.

A written complaint by way of an affidavit containing credible evidence of commission of an offence of corruption by the MPs and the Cabinet of Ministers, emanating from the abuse of people’s legislative and executive power for improper purpose of conferring unlawful favours and benefits for themselves, which falls within the provisions of Section 70 of the Bribery Act, was submitted to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC)by attorney-at- law and the public litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku on Friday (26).

Kodituwakku claimed that the Government elected to power in January 2015, that clearly pleaded to the people to establish a good governance administration free from corruption abandoning the former regime’s corrupt economic and fiscal policies has completely lost its way and is now conveniently reverted to follow the same corrupt adverse economic policies.

“One such gross abuse of power vested in the Legislature and the Executive is the resumption of the tax-free car permit scheme enabling all 225 Members of Parliament (MPs) to embezzle public funds by selling such permits  at an exorbitant price tag of 25 million rupees, enabling the motor car importers to import expensive luxury vehicles (Diesel, Petrol or otherwise) free from any tax, up to the value of US $ 62,500.00 with no engine capacity specified absolutely tax free,” he explained.

Accordingly when the new regimes first fiscal policy statement for the year 2015-2016 was presented in the Parliament on 20th November 2015, Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake made a special reference to the heavy losses sustained by the government on fraudulent tax free permits and proposed to abolish the said permit schemes altogether.

The government stated that the vehicle permit schemes have been politicised and misused and have created a huge revenue loss over Rs. 40 billion a year. The government proposed to abolish all the vehicle permits granted under different schemes, including to Parliamentarians.

The government also said that all government officers will be financially compensated for the benefits foregone.

The government has listed motor vehicles as an ‘Exercisable Article’ in the Gazette, but on the permit issued to MPs to import luxury high valued motor vehicles under the exemption granted under Section 3C no conditions whatsoever have been specified, effectively permitting the MPs to sell their permits and to misappropriate huge sums of the government tax revenue for unjust enrichment. Kodituwakku further stated that through the ‘adverse administrative and/or executive decision’ taken with no regard to the financial impact of such policy decisions on future generations, the government under the guise of ‘economic development of the country’, gazetted the required tax exemption in this regard (No 1965/2 of 02 May 2016) under Section 3C of the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No 13 of 1989 as amended to ‘facilitate the importation of the vehicles for MPs’ absolutely free from any taxes.

Section 3C (1) of the Excise (Special Provisions) Act, No 13 of 1989 (as amended) referred to above allows the government to exempt payment of levies on a certain category of goods that shall be specified in the Gazette published under the said Section 3C (1) only having regard to the ‘Economic Development of the country’ and subject to such conditions that shall be imposed on such goods to protect the government revenue.

This law was enacted for a purpose while, acknowledging the trust and confidence placed in them by the people, assuring the people of their dignity and well- being of successful generations of the people of Sri Lanka and in no way to embezzle public funds by fraudulent means.In the meantime, the tax component of such a vehicle imported by any other citizen without such exemption is well over 30 million rupees (charged at the rate of 300%) and thus there is a heavy demand for these permits in the motor vehicle trade, as buyers of these permits are allowed to import any vehicle of their choice, with no restriction on the engine capacity and at the same time with no restriction whatsoever imposed on the sale or transfer of the vehicles. Therefore, these permits easily fetch a very high price tag going upto over 25 million rupees or more in the motorcar market.

Upon the investigations conducted by Kodithuwakku into the abuse of these permits, it was divulged that those who are engaged in the motor vehicle import trade have bought these permits and already have placed orders for the importation of high valued vehicles, and some 35 units of Toyota Land Cruiser Jeeps have been already imported on these permits.

“So far black and white proof of the violation of the law by a government Parliamentarian and MP Wimal Weerawansa has been exposed,” Kodithuwakku added.

He also said that it is common knowledge that selling of these permits and sharing of the defrauded tax revenue with car importers by MPs are not only illegal but morally and ethically wrong, as such actions amount to pure abuse of office of the MP to favour themselves and for unjust enrichment, which is a punishable offence under Section 70 of the Bribery Act.

He stressed that this fraudulent practice of issuing tax free permits to defraud the government revenue is in clear breach of the fiscal policy laws enacted by the government.

Parliamentarians are fully aware that the tax-free permit schemes are fundamentally wrong and open floodgates for all forms of fraud and go against the ‘principles of responsible fiscal management’ as enacted by the Parliament, as it allows fraudster elements occupying office as MPs to embezzle billions of government revenue, causing a huge impact on the government revenue collection.

Even though the MPs subscribe to the oath as set out in the 4th Schedule of the Constitution to uphold the Constitution and the law and to discharge the duties of the office of the Executive President in accordance with the Constitution and the law and to be faithful to the Constitution, it was not upheld.

“However, the conduct of the government concerning the re-launching of impugned tax-free permit schemes clearly suggests his willingness to follow the very same fraudulent and deceitful fiscal policy adopted by the previous regime, ignoring the severe detrimental impact that it would cause to the National Economy,” he alleged.

Kodithuwakku said the alleged deceitful and fraudulent actions of the government is a vehement infringement of the sovereignty in the people enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitution and their Fundamental Rights duly recognised and protected in Article 12(1) & 12(2) of the Constitution, as the citizens who have elected the President and MPs including 29 through the National List have been clearly discriminated by these unlawful, immoral and deceitful  actions, where the MPs  have been afforded with unfettered privileges to abuse the government revenue whilst, the citizenry have been heavily burdened with unbearable taxes imposed on essential commodities including hospital, Electricity, Water, Telephone and other bills.

“Therefore, I request the Commission to initiate a credible and independent investigation into this complaint in terms of Section 4 of the Act No 19 of 1994, also aiming at restoring people’s trust and confidence in the Legislature and Executive in the Republic of Sri Lanka,” he stated.

However, since it is a criminal offence under the Motor Traffic Act section 12, the police are entitled to take these vehicles into custody until the new owners produce the vehicle registration certificates in their names. Therefore Kodituwakku urged the Commissioner General of Motor Traffic to initiate legal proceedings against those who openly abuse the law.

Meanwhile, it should be highlighted that the President Maithripala Sirisena attending the world Anti-corruption Summit held in London on 12th May 2016, declared the government’s initiative and commitment to fight corruption to the international Community as follows.

‘… Corruption is one of the factors that promote political violence and other forms of human rights abuses. Sri Lanka went through such a stage during the previous administration. The people reacted strongly against corruption by changing the corrupt administration by the power of the ballet in January 2015 at the Presidential election.’

“I also appointed a commission to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption. The Right to Information Act has been presented to the Parliament and the National Audit Act will be presented to the Parliament shortly. All these institutions are working satisfactorily. A special division within the police titled Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) was established to expedite investigations on major financial crimes. They have been given all necessary facilities to carry out their duties. We note with appreciation the support and cooperation already extended to Sri Lanka by several countries including UK, USA, India and Switzerland as well as the World Bank to strengthen the investigative agencies regarding the stolen assets. We are in the process of seeking information and assistance to trace them. We are happy that summit proposes to establish an International Anti-Corruption Centre, all of us as leaders need to act collectively to strengthen our own law enforcement agencies to track the corrupt and recover the proceeds of corruption…… Sri Lanka is fully committed to such firm action …’

9 Comments for “Vehicle Permits For MPs Grossly Abused”

  1. Lord Trevor

    time to investigate Sirisena too? Do not you think so called “great paper” more like the corrupt yahapalana mouth piece- sinking one at that!

  2. kudson

    crooked corrupt criminals leading this country to destruction

  3. Malin

    Out of 225 MPS, Is Wimal Weerawansa the only MP who had abused? This is unbeleivable! How good our other MPs are? My foot. Editor is on public revenge only on WW by mud slinging at him? Do you call this Freedom of Expression?.

    • punchinilame

      Taken as an example, he being a famous patriot and known for his 2 divided by
      2 is—- arugument!

  4. Mahen

    The only change under the current government is the freedom of speech and press freedom. Everything else is the same.

  5. This 8th standard MP has a digree of only swindling the people who voted this “Uncivlised Barbarian” to Parliment to help the people ,He only has a big gab but no respect or education as an MP ,I cant understand why on earth MS<RW, RK cannot see this guy frauding in Passports and now Vehicls Fraud being tollarated without putting him behind bars Come onn Yahapalane Whats going onn are you shielding these Rouges?

  6. sunil

    This bastsrad Weerawansa must be burnt alive with Mahindanada Lokuge,Kumara wal gama, Rohitha abey wardene ,Mr and namal

    they must be burnt alive in thee Vihara mahadevi Park in the presence of the Public
    sinhala Buddhist,my foot absolute parayas

  7. srilanka poorest in poor ,government store import vehicles for purpose for government servant and politician but mr Ranil for his cheap popularity he took a wrong descian or worsting tax money

  8. jayaweera

    This bastard must boiled in hot water and dumped in the beira lake
    absolute para Jadaya

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