For the first time since March 2020, the Government has relaxed import restrictions on specified vehicles designed for public transport use.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Minister has issued an Extraordinary Gazette No.2345/03 on 14 August in this regard.
Buses, trucks, browsers, milk tankers and refrigerated trucks are allowed to be imported from 14 August. The import ban on special purpose vehicles including fire engines, crane trucks, concrete mixer and concrete pump trucks were also lifted, whilst allowing used vehicles depending on their age.
The seized vehicles imported during the banned period can also be cleared with a payment of a 30% surcharge on the cost, insurance and freight (CIF) Value.
Between 2015 and 2020, over 2.49 million (2,498,714) vehicles have been imported into Sri Lanka.
In March 2020, the Government decided to suspend the importation of vehicles as an economic revival measure to manage its weak foreign-currency reserves amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which dragged on for three years following the worst financial crisis post-independence.
As per the Gazette notification, to ensure the smooth implementation of these regulatory changes, the Controller General of Imports and Exports will issue “Operational Instructions” to relevant authorities, including the Director General of Customs and licensed banks.
“The final decision on any matters related to these regulations will rest with the Controller General of Imports and Exports, who will continue to oversee the effective implementation and management of the new import policy,” the Gazette noted.