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Dinesh seeks release of vehicles held at H’tota port

Acting Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena revealed in Parliament yesterday that the government would consider releasing the vehicles imported by professionals through companies by opening the Letters of Credit before the vehicle tax was increased.

Acting Minister said the matter was being discussed with the President and other relevant institutions and they hoped to come to a solution soon.

He made these observations in Parliament yesterday when the joint opposition member Dinesh Gunawardena requested the Finance Acting Minister to involve himself to get the vehicles that had been held up for a long period in the Hambantota harbour released. Those vehicles have been imported by professionals such as doctors and professors.

 He added that those professional had opened their LCs to import the vehicles before the Tax was increased. Taxes on some of those vehicles had been increased by Rs 4 million. He also said that the matter had been brought to the notice of the President as well.

"Those vehicles are exposed to the elements at the harbour as the importers are unable to pay the additional taxes," said MP Dinesh Gunawardena. "So, I request the acting Minister to involve personally and solve the issue. Some vehicles whose LCs were opened before the Tax was increased have been released by the government. The Minister has provisions under the Act to grant such relief".

Acting Minister Abeywardena said the vehicles whose LCs were opened under personal names had been released. "The vehicles whose LCs were opened under companies’ names were not granted the same relief," the Acting Minister said. "But there are professionals who have opened the LCs under company names. In such cases government is attempting to implement a special mechanism. We have discussed that matter even with the President. However, I can’t predict the outcome now".

He said if they were released the owners would have to submit affidavits to the effect that they would not sell those vehicle.