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CMTA emphasizes need for more equitable import policy

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CMTA Chairman Charaka Perera presenting a token of appreciation to Chief Guest, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Vish Govindasamy. Pictre by Sudath Malaweera
CMTA Chairman Charaka Perera presenting a token of appreciation to Chief Guest, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Vish Govindasamy. Pictre by Sudath Malaweera

Ceylon Motor Traders’ Association (CMTA) emphasizes the need for a more equitable import policy that serves the needs of the common man of the country, reelected CMTA Chairman Charaka Perera told the 103th AGM held in Colombo on Tuesday.

“While the masses find difficulties in providing transportation for their families and their small businesses due to the exorbitantly high prices of used vehicles in the country it is disheartening to witness the ridiculous importation of luxury items to cater exclusively to the elite.”

Luxury goods such as high-end televisions, smart phones, double door fridges where the import value is around USD 700 are now being allowed to be imported but a 100 CC petrol scooter used by the common man valued at around USD 600 are suspended, he alleged.

Perera said for the year 2020/21 around USD1.59 billion was spent to import home appliances, furniture, sea food, cosmetics and toiletries alone. But under the current economic conditions the whole vehicle industry will only need about USD 400 million to supply affordable personal mobility to the whole country.

“Opening vehicle imports are not a herculean task. Therefore the association has been strongly lobbying to lift the ongoing import suspension for vehicles. We proposed to lift the ban on a staged basis with vehicles for the masses to be first to be released,” he opined.

Perera also said the CMTA proposed that vehicle imports be subject to an increased tax of another additional 130% with a 15% reduction for the additional tax. This systematic approach leads to bringing the tax structure to its current level within a two year period while discouraging excessive vehicle imports as soon as the vehicle ban is lifted. CMTA submitted this proposal to government officials, IMF, foreign missions and other stakeholders.

He said that last year due political, social and economical instability most industries had a negative growth with inflation exceeding 70% and rupee nose diving adding to the misery and chaos. The automobile sector too endured its third painful year of import suspension. Activities of the CIMA were carried out under these severe hardships but the committee took several initiatives towards the betterment of the members and the automobile sector.

Perera said the Ministry of Transport accepted a proposal by CMTA to regulate vehicle imports and during the last year the association had meetings with the Director General of Customs, Import Control General, RMV Commissioner and officials of several ministries and has written to them on issues regarding regulating electric vehicle imports and action on illegal registration of used vehicles as brand new.

CMTA also made widespread awareness about the need to plan EV import and was invited by the Ministry of Environment to present its concerns to officials of all related ministries.

“It was a achievement to have the initial gazette of the migrant workers scheme allowing only manufacturer recommended brand new EV with a five year warranty but it was unfortunate for the country that another gazette was issued few days later allowing used electric vehicles to be imported under the same scheme against the advice of local manufacturers and without manufacturer warranty,” he added.

Thursday, June 29, 2023 – 01:00

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