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Govt to lift vehicle import ban next year passing a law on automobile standards

By: Staff Writer

May 27, Colombo (LNW): The plan to lift the ban on motor vehicle imports next year relies on recommendations from a committee of Treasury officials aiming to meet revenue targets set by the IMF.

The committee emphasizes that without allowing vehicle imports, hitting these targets would be difficult. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, also the Finance Minister, will review these recommendations before making a final decision.

The urgency arises from the understanding that controlling the US dollar rate for an extended period isn’t feasible. Additionally, the committee considers the IMF’s higher revenue targets for the next year.

 While specifics like which vehicles to import and their manufacturing years are still undecided, the goal is clear: to boost revenue.

Already, 1,000 vehicles, including coaches and vans, have been allowed for the tourism sector, showing a gradual relaxation of restrictions.

The substantial increase in foreign reserves, from $431 million to $4,951 million in March, supports the case for lifting the ban. Despite an expected annual loss of up to $800 million, the projected tax revenue of Rs 340 billion helps meet local revenue targets.

The Government is also planning to pass a law implementing vehicle import standards to prevent malpractices and irregularities in the current process before removing the present restrictions finance ministry sources said.

The state authorizes are compelled to take this decision in the wake of directives issued by a parliamentary committee on present scheme of importing e-vehicles for foreign expatriate workers.

The gradual increase in dollar reserves and the rise in the value of the rupee will allow the import of vehicles at least by next year, Finance State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

The committee appointed to carry out a comprehensive study to systematically remove restrictions on the import of vehicles has already made its recommendations, he added.

Cabinet of ministers have recently approved the extension of an electrical vehicle import license scheme, for Sri Lankan expatriates, till June 30.

The Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance Dr. Harsha de Silva noted that there is no transparency in the scheme of providing fully electric vehicle licenses to Sri Lankans working abroad.The committee also stated that through this, vehicles with a tax relief amounting to Rs. 100 million have been imported. It was disclosed that 1,019 licenses have been granted so far and $109.8 million remittances have been received through this.

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