All parliamentarians except JVP members have imported duty free super luxury vehicles incurring an expenditure of more than US$ 8 million and causing a loss of Rs. 2.5 billion to the Treasury ? or public funds - due to the duty waiver, a highly placed Customs official said yesterday.
The government has paid more than Rs. 13 million each as duty for the super luxury vehicles imported by JHU parliamentarians, Ven Ellawala Medhananda, Ven. Athuraliye Ratana and Ven Kotapola Amarakitti Theras, while only Rs. 3,492,000 and Rs. 4,932,000 have been paid as duty for the vehicles imported by JVP Parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa and JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka respectively.
The super luxury vehicles imported by the parliamentarians including the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, the Speaker, all Cabinet and non Cabinet Ministers and a majority of both government and opposition members utilizing to the limit the maximum ceiling of US$ 35.000 include brand names such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Montero and Prado.
It is learnt even the wives of assassinated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Member of Parliament N. Raviraj have imported vehicles using this privilege.
`Contrary to popular belief, these vehicles are not duty free. They are duty free only for the privileged parliamentarians as they do not pay any duty.
But duties and taxes for each vehicle are paid in full by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry from public funds,` the official said.