Bypass Operation

The month of March saw a record number of vehicle registrations with vehicle owners trying to avoid a new withholding tax from April 1. The month of March saw a record number of vehicle registrations with vehicle owners trying to avoid a new withholding tax from April 1. “This is the first time we have seen over 19,000 vehicle registrations in one month. On average only around 15,000 vehicles are registered per month,” says Anura de Silva, statistician, Department of Motor Traffic.

A total of 19,204 vehicles were registered in the month of March, despite vehicle imports reducing drastically in the beginning of the year.

Vehicle imports reduced by over half – 55 percent – in the month of January compared to January 2004, according to the Central Bank.

The drop in vehicle imports is attributed to higher taxes and increased fuel costs and the withholding tax – although tax deductible- is expected to add to the cost of owning a vehicle.

“The only explanation for the sudden increase in registrations is the withholding tax. People registered their vehicles by March 31 to avoid paying the withholding tax from April,” says d