Professionals with vehicle LCs opened pre-ban ask for relief | Daily News

Professionals with vehicle LCs opened pre-ban ask for relief

A group of professionals with letters of credit established before the ban on vehicle imports using concessionary permits with foreign suppliers is calling on the Government of Sri Lanka to allow shipping of these motor vehicles.

The group under the name “Group of Affected Professionals Established L/Cs before 19th of March 2020” consists of more than 300 members including doctors, engineers, lecturers, accountants and other government executives who have opened L/Cs to import vehicles for personal use while some have even placed orders before October 31, 2019. When the orders were ready to be shipped, the directives issued by Import and Export Control Department restricted shipping of vehicles after May 21, 2020 by a circular issued on May 29, 2020 under Gazette Notification No. 2176/19. Despite the ban, it is noted that certain parties continued to ship vehicles violating these circulars after May 21, 2020.

However, a subsequent Gazette issued by the Import Controller dated 19th June 2020 and revised on 26th June 2020 allowed to clear such vehicles which were shipped to the country between May 22, 2020 to 16th June 2020 while the ban is imposed for the importation of vehicles favouring those who shipped the vehicle while the ban is in place.

The affected group who have remained law-abiding citizens have further encountered immense financial and physiological trauma due to not having a clear solution to the above-mentioned issue.

In September this year letters were sent to Authorities highlighting this issue to which responses and solutions are yet to be received. Further, many other organizations have already submitted multiple requests to the authorities seeking a solution in this regard.

Speaking on the issue at hand the membership of the group noted, “Our vehicles have been manufactured and are ready to ship since last May. Out of the 300 vehicles 120 are parked in Singapore Port and others are at foreign yards belonging to suppliers incurring damages to the vehicles. Foreign/local suppliers have demanded to pay demurrages and port charges of Rs.600, 000/- as at date. Further, these vehicles ordered through irrevocable letters of credit cannot be cancelled either which would be a violation of international import laws”.

While considering the current situation in the country and as a solution to the issue the group would like to mention that 360 days Credit period have been offered by the suppliers for the payment.

Since the shipments were withheld as per the new import restriction imposed by the Government on May 21, 2020, the group further requests the ability to clear these vehicles under previous duty structure for vehicles for which the letters of credit opened before October 31, 2019. Valuable foreign exchange is also leaving the country via payments of demurrages etc.