N. Kodituwakku & Co., Attorney-at-law (SL) & Solicitor (UK) has issued notice on President Maithripala Sirisena urging him to "stop the abuse of tax revenue with permits issued to MPs granting full waiver of all forms of tax normally charged on motor vehicles".
Attorney Nagananda Kodituwakku says that with 19A coming into force, immunity granted to the President under Article 35 of the Constitution has been removed for all Right Violation Petitions.
It is in this backdrop that he has issued notice on the President and given him given 14 days to stop this abuse.
This abuse falls within Section 70 of the Bribery Law (abuse of office by those holding public office to favour themselves or any other person), he said.
It is observed th at further to a ‘policy decision’ taken by the Yahapalana administration, all 225 MPs have been issued with permits to import vehicles (Diesel or Petrol) with noengine capacity specified up to the value of US$ 62.500.00, absolutely free from any tax, the notice issued on the Preident noted.
It further said: "Already the required tax exemption has been gazetted in this regard (No 1965/ 2 of 02 May 2016) by the Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake.
"The tax component of such a vehicle (charged at the rate of 30 0%) is well over 30 mlliion rupees and thus there is a heavy demand for this permit in the car market, which fetches a price tag between 20 to 22.5 million rupees.
"It is also learnt that vehicles valued up to £100,000.00 are also imported on these permits with a false value declared for Customs purposes approved by the committee appointed to determine the value of these vehicles.
"It is common sense that selling of these permits and sharing the defrauded tax revenue with car importers is not only legally but morally wrong as it amounts to abuse of office of MP for unjust enrichment, a punishable act under Section 70 of the Bribery Act.
"Therefore, keeping with your constitutional duty to uphold the Rule of Law according to the Constitution and the Law, you are hereby requested to take following corrective measures straightaway to stop this abuse of defrauding th e government revenue, whilst other citizens are charged with heavy tax of various kind imposed on essential commodities including hospital bills.
a) Impose a condition that no vehicle imported on permits issued to MPs can be disposed of for a period of 5 years from the date of importation. the violation of which in any manner, would result automatic forfeiture of the vehicle by the Director General of Customs (DGC) .
b) Direct the DGC to seize and confiscate any vehicle imported under this permit scheme with false declaration value for customs purposes, which is an offence under Section S2 of the Customs Ordinance.
c) Direct the Registrar of Motor Vehicle (RMV) to stipulate a condition against the disposal of such vehicles in the Vehicle Registration Certificate for a period of five years from the date of first registration.
Attorney Kodituwakku says he has already reported th is abuse to the Corruption Commission on Dec. 11, 20 14 requesting the Commission to enforce the law against the fraudster elements. Yet the Commission is of the view that this loss caused to the government resulted from the implementation of the government policy, and therefore, refused to initiate action against the perpetrators.
He said that when the refusal of the Corruption Commission was challenged in the Supreme Court which exercises people’s judicial power absolutely on trust, the Court too declined to intervene, citing the same reason and the application made to the Court for revision of the said Order on the basis that it has been made per incuriam was also refused by the Chief Justice.
The people removed President Rajapakse for reasons; that was mainly due to condoning and encouraging of all forms of corruption, he noted.
During the 2015 election campaign to the Office of the President, Maithripala Sirisena promised people a ‘Yahapalana’ administration free from corruption, but the situation has now become much worse with no hope for justice for the people against the gross abuse of their sovereign powers, the Attorney said.