ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Automobile Service Association representing automobile repair workshops around the country say they could repair old state vehicles at a lower cost and keep them on the road for longer if given an opportunity rather than limiting repairs to agents.
The prohibitive costs of repairs quoted by vehicle agents under the current procurement system lead to state vehicles being condemned early, the auto service association said.
“As those companies never engage in repair, and just put a brand-new piece for any minor repair which in turn will cost the government a fortune,” Sri Lanka Automobile Services Providers Association, National organizer, Engineer Ravith Silva said.
He also claimed that more foreign exchange would be lost now to import parts rather than repairing, at a time when the government has slapped restrictions on international trade.
Sri Lanka slapped trade restrictions after money printing in March and April putting pressure on the rupee.
Analysts have called for reform of the central bank to stop forex shortages so that vehicles or other trade could happen freely.
In Sri Lanka, there is Mercantilist belief that trade (cars, oil and gold in particular), rather than money and credit is responsible for monetary instability.
The drive to ‘save foreign exchange’ by controlling trade, rather than stopping the printing of excess money has hit the entire automobile sector.
Critics had warned that the unstable soft-pegged monetary regime is driving the country towards economic nationalism and divisions in society.
Silva said by giving the vehicles to the local service providers, the cost will be less, and the government’s long term vision which is to sustain the local entrepreneur and the micro economy can be uplifted and to a better standard of living.
“When they give the local people the chance it will circulate the money within the country,” Silva said.
“However, if they send it to multinational companies, they will import all the parts which will only send our money abroad.”
Sri Lanka has decided to repair 4,116 state vehicles and put them back to use instead of buying new ones.
Another 5,588 state vehicles which cannot be repaired will be discarded.
The SLASPA has made a proposal to the State Minister of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry Dilum Amunugama on being allowed to fix the vehicles.
They will give a warranty.
“We requested Government to work with us to repair 10,000 high and mid-value vehicles and 2000 ambulances with a warranty and a better after repair service,” Silva said.
“Now the government has agreed to least repair these and explore the options.”
Silva says state agencies tended to remove vehicles from use due to high estimates, though they could be fixed for a lower cost.
“It is more profitable to label these vehicles as condemned vehicles and get money from the government to import new vehicles,” Silva said.
“When these vehicles are sent via the old procurement system, they will show an unrealistic cost for these minor repairs.
“Therefore, it will be seen like it is easy to import vehicles rather than repairing the
“We as an industry trying to save this foreign exchange and we are trying to promote and support our local service providers.”
Silva said that SLASPA is working towards digitization of the industry to remove unwanted costs and for better transparency.
SLASPA said it had decided to support the local ‘Batik and apparel Industry’ by creating a standard uniform and making all the uniforms of organizations under SLASPA from locally produced apparel.
“We met the Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara to discuss about this and we will soon change our uniforms to local material,” Silva said. (Colombo/Sep 18/2020)