CHOGM luxury cars sold for Rs. 33 m; other vehicles distributed to select state entities

Thursday, 23 January 2014 00:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama, Our Lobby Correspondent The 54 Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid LWB Sedan RHD super luxury cars imported for CHOGM 2013 were sold in the open market for Rs. 33 million each, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and the Leader of the House of Parliament Nimal Siripala de Silva revealed yesterday in response to MP Anura Dissanayake’s questions raised under Standing Order 23/2. According to Minister the two weeks brief use for CHOGM has forced the Government to settle for Rs. 30 million, as the current market value of each Mercedes Benz and related taxes are applicable on this valuation. “These cars were imported through Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC and they are assigned to proceed without following the tender procedures to pursue the sale,” the Minister confirmed to the House, tabling a long list outlining the fates of other vehicles imported for CHOGM. According to this list, 30 luxury busses with 30 seating capacity were distributed among ministries and departments in addition to the Victoria Home at Rajagiriya and the School of Special Needs at Chitra Lane. The Sri Lanka Transport Board was given 50 buses and private tour operators were given 30 busses in addition to the 10 buses used on expressways. All these buses have a seating capacity of 41. The rest of the 129 vehicles imported for CHOGM were distributed among the ministries and departments, according to Minister de Silva. Raising the question opposition lawmaker Anura Kumara Dissanayake said: “These Mercedes Benz vehicles were exempted duty free. The exporter was Stuttgart Daimler AG in Germany and the local importer was the Secretary of the Treasury. According to Sri Lanka Customs, a Rs. 757 million tax exemption was granted despite the tax calculations reaching Rs. 910 million. So, in reality Rs. 152 million was paid as taxes for these imports forcing the Government to lose. However, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella held that these cars will be returned to the local agent DIMO after CHOGM to recover the investment. But it was reported recently that some car were sold each at Rs. 35 million based on the high demand. The other vehicles imported for CHOGM was distributed among the Secretaries of Ministries and Department Heads.”