May 21, Colombo: Sri Lankan car importers are publishing pages and pages of advertisements in local newspapers to lure the new breed of public officials who have a fresh permit to import motor vehicles duty free.
Meanwhile, the purchasing power of the lower strata of society has gone down as they face further increases in commodity prices.
Vehicles, run with diesel currently sold at five rupees per liter subsidized by public tax money, have become popular among these middle-level public officials. They can buy a 1450 turbo charged intercooler diesel engine, full option Tata Indigo made in India for little over Rs. 700,000 or a Japanese-made 2.5L intercooled turbo diesel four wheel drive full option Montero Sports vehicle for a little over Rs. 1.6 million.
A less fortunate Sri Lankan pays around one million rupees for a simple 800cc Indian-made Maruti, which is sold at 200,000 Indian rupees in the manufacturing country.
The Sri Lanka government is providing approximately six billion rupees from public money as concessions to over three thousand senior officers in the public service, armed forces, Parliament, University Grants Commission, and universities who have qualified for the duty-free concession. This facility was earlier provided only for politicians.
They are allowed to import motor vehicles with an engine capacity of 1300cc, 1600cc, 1800cc, 2000cc, or 2800cc, according to their seniority and official status as of April 25.