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Friday July 30th, 2021
Corruption

Sri Lanka opposition SJB rejects controversial move to purchase SUVs at taxpayer expense

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has rejected a controversial government proposal to purchase luxury vehicles for government and opposition MPs using funds from the treasury.

SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa June 13 evening urged the government to use the funds to vaccinate the public against COVID-19.

“The SJB will never approve of using public resources for the betterment of the lives of politicians, rather such resources should be invested in promoting a prosperous and a developed motherland (sp),” Premadasa tweeted.

Sri Lanka’s central bank which is advocating import controls and is also the banking regulator, did not approve the opening of letters of credit to bring down luxury SUVs for parliamentarians, Governor W D Lakshman said June 12.

There has been public anger at elected ruling class importing SUVs while the ordinary public is barred from importing three wheelers after tax cuts and money printing.

The elected ruling class also get tax free SUVs and state workers get tax slashed cars while ordinary people pay taxes of close to 300 percent for some vehicles in a modern day feudal-overload-to-serf style taxation system.

“I see it as a difficult question to justify,” Governor Lakshman said. “It should be asked from the Bank of Ceylon and the state institution that gave instructions to the Bank of Ceylon.”

Related: Sri Lanka CB did not approve luxury SUV imports for MPs: Governor

The Sunday Times reported June 13 that the proposal was merely suspended but not cancelled, as previously indicated by the government. A cabinet paper titled ‘Purchase of Vehicles for Fieldwork’ presented by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister on May 18 – against a backdrop of an escalating COVID-19 epidemic – was suspended on May 24. The Sunday Times report said letters of credit had been opened for 227 brand new Toyota Land Cruiser Prados on April 22 by the state-owned Bank of Ceylon, over a month before the cabinet paper was presented.

SJB MP Dr Harsha de Silva, echoing his leader Premadasa, proposed that if the letters of credit cannot be revoked – as it may result in Bank of Ceylon being blacklisted – the SUVs be exchanged for 112 ambulances for the Suwaseriya emergency service.

 

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