Insufficient road capacity, reason behind car import restrictions: PM

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Oct 19, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s recent restrictions imposed on car imports were a response to the insufficient capacity of roads, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

In an interview with Singapore’s ‘Straits Times’, Wickremesinghe said currently it takes too long coming into Colombo.

“The restrictions on car imports put in place recently were because police were up in arms saying the road capacity is insufficient,” he said.

The Finance Ministry recently imposed a maximum limit for vehicle leasing which is 90 percent of the vehicle value.

It also imposed a 100 percent margin deposit requirement against the Letter of Credits opened with the commercial banks for vehicle imports.

Apart from that, Sri Lanka customs through an extraordinary gazette notification changed its basis for vehicle valuations pushing vehicle prices further up.

Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne earlier requested the government to reduce traffic congestion in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital.

Wijeratne also charged that the recent one-way traffic plan that has now been temporary suspended along the Parliament road has actually created more traffic congestion.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also told ‘Straits Times’ that they are allowing Chinese submarines inside Sri Lankan ports if they are not too frequent.

“We have put out the criterion for visits by naval ships. Under that, ships including submarines from all countries can visit Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe said.

“As far as we are concerned if it is a friendly visit we will inform the neighboring countries and we will spread out the (frequency of the) visits.”

India earlier raised concerns over an incident letting Chinese submarines to call at Sri Lankan ports.

“The problem with the last visit by a Chinese submarine was that India claims it was not informed. So far, from what we found out, that seems to be correct.” he added.