Finance Minister Managala Samaraweera has responded in a very positive manner to find solutions to the grievances faced by motor industry in Sri Lanka, said Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) Chairman Reeza Rauf.
He said the recent meeting with the finance minister had been very progressive with the minister being very accommodative to the association’s views and appointing a subcommittee with the finance ministry to listen to their grievances and come to a compromise.
“We met the new finance minister and expressed our grievances. He was very accommodative and agreed to appoint relevant officials to look into the matter and discuss with us,” Rauf said.
The CMTA chief said the minister gave a good hearing to their problems and CMTA was very happy and content with the meeting with Minister Samaraweera. Rauf said the minister had understood the situation very well and accepted that there have been a lot of enormities in the past that has adversely affected the motor industry in Sri Lanka. Minister Samaraweera at the discussions with CMTA had pledged that he will ensure that a level playing field would be created for all stakeholders in the motor industry.
CMTA the apex automobile franchise body of global automobile brands imported to Sri Lanka had continuously lobbied for policy consistency from the government in the automobile industry.
Rauf said they would continue to lobby against the government’s ad-hoc policy changes, which had badly harmed the country’s legitimate auto industry in the past couple of years. The Chairman said they would seek a change to the government policies on the automobile industry which has created a ‘no level playing field’ in the market while certain sectors especially the used car imports continued to benefit. It has also been very unfortunate that the relevant government institutions had in the past failed to recognize CMTA’s contribution to the economy, he noted.
The CMTA boss also expressed the association’s displeasure over the move to allow the registering of vehicles assembled by importing age-old, used spare parts, contravening all safety standards and risking the lives of the public, who are unaware of the dangers.
Rauf alleged that by this the government had contradicted its own budget proposal of 2016, where it suggested re-exporting vehicles, which are five years and older, as these so-called used spare parts could be well over five to 10 years.
The CMTA Chairman cautioned that the danger of permitting such a move was that the unsuspecting buyer would not know the year of manufacture of these assembled vehicles as a car manufactured years ago can be issued with a latest registration number plate by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
He also brought to light that the present valuation system in place for import brand new vehicles was disadvantageous to the country and has cost the government coffers colossal loss in terms of revenue. The authorities could find out for themselves the extent of loss by carrying out a appropriate investigation and evaluate the market trend for the last one to one-and-a-half-year period,” he said.
Rauf opined that the grievances of the legitimate importers of brand-new vehicles had gone into deaf ears in the past but was very optimistic that discussions with Minister Samaraweera will turn around the situation. The CMTA Chairman pointed out that the industry had also been badly affected by the Central Bank’s restrictions on loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) to 50 percent for motor cars and SUVs, 70 percent for motorcycles and 25 percent for three-wheelers. This has hampered the customer demand to purchase at least a low-end motor vehicle through a financing facility.
The CMTA Chairman also acknowledged that the CMTA was very much aware of the dilemma the government had to face in bridging the balance of payments gap of the country.
He therefore requested that both the automobile industry and government should work together without further delay to create a level playing field and find a mechanism for the sustenance of the industry, its stakeholders and future growth.
CMTA’s meeting with Minister Samaraweera is a clear step towards that direction Rauf added.
Sources : dailynews