Feb 12, Colombo: A decision made by the cabinet of ministers to release eight containers of used vehicle parts from the Customs to its consignee, an illegal vehicle assembly plant, was based on the legal advice given by the Attorney General, the Finance Ministry said today in a statement.
Finance Ministry issued the statement in response to the media reports which said that the Ministry had directed the Customs to immediately release eight containers carrying vehicle spare parts for the company, which assembles vehicles locally using the spare parts.
"This Cabinet decision was communicated to the Sri Lanka Customs by the Secretary to Treasury and not at the will of the Finance Minister, as certain parties with vested interests were trying to mislead the general public with ulterior motives of tarnishing the image of Minister Ravi Karunanayake," Finance Ministry said in the press release.
It said, a private company called Vehicle Lanka pvt Ltd which is engaged in assembly of vehicles making use of the used spare parts had commenced its operation after year 2005. Since then as they encountered with numerous legal barriers they had filed over 20 court cases and FR applications in the Supreme Court. One such Fundamental Right case filed in 2012 has been amicably settled with Transport Ministry and as a result the company was given permission by the then Commissioner of Motor Traffic to engage in vehicle assembling. As even this decision meted out with barricades the company had filed a case against the Commissioner of Motor Traffic too.
The Supreme Court decision on the last FR case No 304 filed in 2011, was delivered in the year 2015, and the Cabinet appointed a Sub- committee in this regard under the chairmanship of the minister of Transport Nimal Siripala de Silva after having considered the legal opinion from the Attorney General decided to give three year concession to the company to be engaged in vehicle assembling business on the condition of withdrawing all the pending court cases.
The Ministry said it submitted a paper to the cabinet of ministers for its consideration in October 2016 as these actions recommended by the AG comes under its purview and not due to due to any personal interest on the part of minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake to help an individual company.
It has been reported that Mr. Karunanayake was seeking the concession for a maximum of 2,250 vehicles over a three year period and the Finance Ministry had directed the Customs to immediately release the eight containers carrying vehicle spare parts for the company.
The Customs recently raided the assembling plant at Minuwangoda and took into custody 54 vehicles assembled with imported spare parts violating the Motor Traffic Act.
"It has been brought to the notice of the Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake that certain politicians and media are engaged in tarnishing his image with malicious intention to portray that the Minister Ravi Karunanayake is trying to help this particular company. Minister Ravi Karunanayake condemns these acts while rejecting the allegations," the Ministry statement further said.