The government was called on to regulate the importation of motor vehicles by the Vehicle Importers Association of Sri Lanka (VIASL), so that local consumers are safeguarded against “seasonal” importers and malpractices in the trade.
The Association asserted the need to streamline importation of vehicles and formulate a mechanism to identify genuine importers so that the market is not disrupted when the government reverses its policy on the current import ban.
“Importation of motor vehicles is not regulated, hence carried out by various ‘seasonal’ importers whose identity is not discoverable after a few months.
Due to insufficient restrictions, the number of individuals posing to be genuine importers on various platforms of advertising have committed various frauds and have obtained large advances from customers in order to import vehicles and have not returned them citing various reasons,” pointed out the VIASL in a statement to the media yesterday.
The Association reiterated that a mechanism must be in place to make certain that all vehicle importers are being monitored under various legal and ethical criteria.
The VIASL expressed that it is of the view that the introduction of such a system would immediately boost government income tax revenue, which in turn could be used for the benefit of the general public.
“This system will definitely reduce the dollar outflow due to the controls in place. Above all, Sri Lankan consumers will be protected from various fraudulent activities,” the association said.
If the new Special Goods and Service Tax (GST) is imposed on vehicle imports, the prices of imported vehicles will rise further, Vehicle Importers’ Association of Sri Lanka (VIASL) Secretary Arosha Rodrigo said.
He said with the COVID pandemic in the country, total vehicle imports were suspended by the government to save foreign exchange.
According to the Finance Ministry, the GST was proposed in the Budget 2021 and was proposed to be implemented from January 1, 2022.
In the Budget 2021, it was stated that an online managed single special goods and services tax would be proposed on telecommunications, motor vehicles, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, betting and gaming.
Mr. Rodrigo stated that the current budget proposal will keep the vehicle import suspension in place even into next year.
“When we searched for more details from the Finance Ministry, they said the vehicle importation topic is not even suitable to talk about given the critical situation the country is currently facing,” he said.
Mr. Fernando said that vehicles are very expensive, and people are used to purchasing new vehicles despite many difficulties.
Therefore, he has requested the government not to impose such taxes on vehicle imports in this critical situation that the importers are facing.