If I was an ex-PC member, I would be very very happy. Apparently, the cabinet approved a proposal to let me have a duty-free vehicle despite not holding an official position representing the public. However, I’m not an ex-PC member and this proposal is principally wrong in many aspects.
Vehicle taxes in Sri Lanka are very high. I’m yet to find another country where taxes can reach 200% (although I think they probably exist). Those holding public office will have to save up for years to buy a small car using their official salaries, hence they get a tax break. Perfectly legitimate as many need a car to carryout their day to day activities as elected public representatives. We as a country are losing out on taxes but we hope our representatives will benefit us more than the millions we could have gained as tax income.
In this backdrop, our MP’s and others selling their permits to those not entitled to it is scandalous! If the elected official doesn’t have a necessity to import a duty-free vehicle for various reasons, they can tear the permit up and not use it. Selling it is equivalent to a double robbery (I’m not exaggerating). The buyer of the permit doesn’t pay any taxes, so we the public have to pay more taxes on our essential goods to make up the millions lost. The MP or the seller gets up to 150 million rupees money that we have to make up for with our taxes. This is like stealing 150 million rupees from the public coffers that could have been used to build another school to keep up with the increasing demand for year 1 admissions.
Now this scandal is set to worsen. PC members who didn’t perform well and were kicked out from office by the public will get millions of rupees as handouts from the same public. Why do they need tax-exemptions? There is no moral justification for this proposal.
This is simply outrageous. I wouldn’t be surprised if no elected political party will speak out against this because this benefits members of all parties and selling vehicle permits is a cross-party business. I wish we had more political commentators and social activists who could preach some commonsense in the media.