Government and Opposition MPs are expected to push for duty free vehicles, though they may not agree on many other issues of national importance. Parliament comprises of UPFA (144), UNF (60), TNA (14) and DNA (7) members. Among them are several dozen newcomers to Parliament, the majority of them representing the SLFP-led ruling coalition.
Authoritative sources say almost all MPs will take advantage of the facility. Responding to a query by The Island, sources said that MPs would receive a duty waiver for diesel or petrol vehicles worth up to US $ 35,000. The government would have to pay duty on behalf of those who made use of the facility.
Sources said that an MP is entitled to receive one duty free permit once in every five years. In the previous parliament, only the then National List MP Basil Rajapaksa had not received a duty free permit.
Political sources said that some senior politicians had received more than four duty free permits. They said that there was no provision to prevent MPs from transferring the duty free permits received by them at the taxpayers expense.
The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry will handle the assignment. Former Child Development and Women s Empowerment Minister Mrs. Sumedha Jayasena is in charge of the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio. She succeeded veteran UNPer M. H. Mohamed, who did not find a place in the seventh parliament through the National List.
Sources said that the Cabinet had to approve duty free permits before the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry set the process in motion.
Sources said that the top government leadership may want to delay the issue of duty free permits.