A Government directive on the import of reconditioned or used cars has sparked a crisis among importers with some 800 vehicles being stuck at the port for the past two months.
The directive stipulates that only cars less than two years old could be imported while many dealers had opened Letters of Credit for the import of vehicles which were five years old.
The directive led to protests from used vehicle importers after Customs refused to release reconditioned vehicles older than two years.
Motor Traffic Chief B.D.L. Dharmapriya said that with per capita income increasing rapidly, the government might soon impose a total ban on the import of used vehicles.
He said a similar policy was enforced in Singapore which no longer imported used vehicles.
Used vehicle importers said they believed the government would soon reduce the limit to one year. While reducing the age limit of the vehicles, the government has increased the duty on vehicles below 1000 cc, considered the average man’s car.
The government move is attributed largely to lobbying by new vehicle dealers who are claiming that old vehicles are increasing air pollution.
Importers said they opened LCs with the banks for the import of three-year old vehicles prior to the issue of the circular on April 25. They said that once LCs were opened this meant approval for vehicles to be imported following which the process of bringing them down began.
These importers said some dealers with political patronage were allowed to take their vehicles out of the port while others were asked to pay a penalty of 20% or a surcharge for the importation of vehicles of three years. This has resulted in about 800 vehicles being stuck at the port for the past two months.
Last Tuesday, importers were told by the Treasury that they could clear their vehicles from the port by giving a bank guarantee.
Vehicle registration roars
to highest level
By Damith Wickremasekara
More than 2,000 new vehicles are registered each day with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles bringing about a dramatic if not dangerous increase in the number of vehicles.
Motor Traffic chief B.D.L. Dharmapriya said June had seen the highest
ever number of 48,157 registrations of vehicles. He said since January the vehicle registration had been showing an increase with an average of 40,000 vehicles registered a month.
He said last month 22,690 motorcycles, 13,753 three-wheelers and 5,069 cars were registered.
For this year so far 123,148 motorcycles, 63,386 three wheelers and 29,883 cars have been registered with the RMV.
Mr. Dharmapriya said there had been an increase in the vehicle registrations in the Northern and Eastern Provinces after the end of the war.“Though the taxes have been increased, we have observed that the registration of vehicles is also steadily increasing,” he said.