Speaking to The Sunday Leader, JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath said, the Finance Ministry has signed as the consigner of the 54 Benz cars in the documents with regard to the purchase.
“Therefore the Benz cars were imported by the Finance Ministry and were given tax concessions without any legal basis. A letter has been sent from the Department of National Budget to the Customs Department seeking tax release. Customs documents indicate the Finance Ministry is responsible for all transactions including payments. How can these private institutions be given unlimited tax concessions?” the JVP MP asked.
“The tax relief for Benz cars is Rs 750 million. A Benz car is worth Rs 35 million, and these private institutions will sell these cars again with the tax added to the cost. That process is completely flawed,” he asserted.
“The only option which the government can resort to is auctioning the Benz cars following a transparent tender procedure. It is crystal clear that the government is avoiding that,” the Parliamentarian added saying this is one reason why there is no uniformity in the statements issued by ministers of the government with regard to the future of the 54 Benz cars. He said if the government decides to hoodwink the public on this matter the JVP will raise the issue and make the public aware of what he termed as a “dirty deal”.
There were media reports two weeks ago saying that the Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga had said the cars would be returned to the companies and they will be ordered to sell them and close the Letters of Credit opened through the Bank of Ceylon. Prior to that, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had said the cars would be distributed among the ministries. Although The Sunday Leader attempted to contact a spokesperson at the Finance Ministry to get a response to this allegation, it was not successful.