As many as sixty-five new Members of Parliament, or nearly one-third of the entire Parliament have sold the duty-free permits given to them free by the Government to mostly businessmen for prices ranging from Rs. 12 million to Rs. 17 million, the Sunday Times learns.
Each MP gets to keep that much as a cool profit in the transaction. They will be entitled to another permit in five years time. Some of the MPs who have sold their permits are Cabinet Ministers who have official cars for their use. There are some MPs who have imported the vehicle and then sold it unused at the market price.
A top of the range Toyota Sahara can be purchased for Rs. 7 million on the duty free permit and sold for Rs. 30 million. An MP is also entitled to a credit of up to US dollars 50,000 or Rs. 5.8 million from any bank to open a Letter of Credit if he or she wishes to import the vehicle.
Parliamentary Affairs Ministry Secretary S.P. Jayatunga said these permits were given to anyone who was entitled and applied for them but she refused to give the number of permits issued. The Sunday Times, however, learns that 198 such permits have been issued for this year by the ministry.In addition to these free permits, the Government has provided 74 ruling party MPs Prado jeeps saying they are needed by the MPs to supervise development work in their electorates. The free permit they get could be sold to any bidder provided the transfer papers are blank and the vehicle remains in the name of the MP.