Sri Lanka civil servants to get new cars at low prices

April 6, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is offering drastic customs duty cuts to help over 20,000 civil servants import new cars, the finance ministry said Friday.

The move was to fulfil an election promise made in 2005.

Senior public officials, including police and military personnel, with over five years of service will be entitled to import a car, sports utility vehicle, or a pick-up truck by paying as little as 25 percent of the normal tax.

Vehicles are expensive in Sri Lanka which slaps import duties ranging from 250 to 350 percent.

“We estimate around 20,000 or more public employees will be eligible to import cars under the concessionary tax scheme,” S. H. Samaratunge, Director General of the Finance Ministry, told AFP.

Those with five to 10 years of service can import a 11,500 dollar petrol powered car with 1.3 litre engine capacity by paying 25 percent of the normal tax.

They could also import a more economical 2.8 litre diesel vehicle up to a maximum value of 16,000 dollars by paying 45 percent of the regular tax.

“Those eligible must import brand new vehicles,” Samaratunge said.

Car dealers said the limits on the