Cheaper Wheels

June 30, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government Friday said it will offer duty free cars and motorcycles to accredited journalists in a bid to ensure the “freedom” of the media. Plan Implementation Ministry Secretary Nivard Cabraal said a scheme to offer tax free cars, motorcycles and computers to journalists would be implemented before the end of the year.

“Details will be included in the (annual) budget” customarily presented to parliament by November, he said.

“The freedom of the media could be truly established only if the living conditions of the media personnel are raised,” President Mahinda Rajapakse, who came to power in November last year, said in his election manifesto.

Cabraal, who takes over as central bank governor on Saturday, said the government would also offer scholarships to local journalists to pursue higher education and professional training.

Journalists are not recognised by the state as professionals and are not entitled to deduct expenses from income tax, unlike recognised professionals.