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Activist urges MPs who sold duty free car permits to donate to Meethotamulla


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By Shanika Sriyananda

Public interest litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku, who formed the Garbage Victims Fund to pay compensation to victims of the Meethotamulla disaster, yesterday urged parliamentarians who had sold their duty free vehicle permits to contribute to this fund.

Kodituwakku, who is the Convener of the fundraising campaign, told the Daily FT that the campaign was initiated with the opening of account number 80724205 at the Bank of Ceylon branch in Nugegoda with an initial deposit of Rs. 100,000 made by him on 19 April.

“The Government has decided to pay Rs. 100,000 for each of the families of the victims of the Meethotamulla tragedy. This is an insult to the people who died in this man-made disaster. I checked with the prices one has to pay to rescue a cow from a slaughterhouse, which is between Rs. 200,000-Rs. 250,000. Here the Government pledges to pay only Rs. 100,000 per victim. Isn’t it an insult to humanity?” he queried.

Kodituwakku earlier revealed the names of the parliamentarians, including some Cabinet Ministers, who have imported luxury Toyota Land Cruisers, evading Rs. 33 million in tax payment to the Government.

“They enjoyed the privilege of getting duty-free car permits as MPs elected by the people and at least now take part in the fundraising campaign with each MP donating Rs. 1 million of the defrauded tax revenue to the Government.” Kodituwakku, who was the former Head of the Customs Revenue Task Force, showed the Customs papers for two cars imported at a value Rs. 574 million for a top politician.

He said that the present Government pledged to end duty-free car permit abuse as it caused a colossal loss to Government tax revenue, amounting to at least Rs. 40 billion a year, but never kept its promise. Kodituwakku said that if the Government had saved the over Rs. 7 billion defrauded through the sale of tax free permits by MPs, the Government could have implement an effective waste management project to save the lives lost in the Meethotamulla garbage dump disaster.

The 11-member fundraising campaign committee comprises top retired government servants, lawyers and businessmen.  

He said that they were planning to invite families of victims to make the donations next month at a function scheduled to be held in Colombo. 


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