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Sri Lanka BMW registrations up 281-pct in Jan after tax changes

(LBO) – Sri Lanka’s registrations of BMW luxury cars rose 280 percent in January 2013 from a year earlier following changes to taxes while new registrations of small Maruti/Suzuki models plunged 84 percent, data compiled by an equities research house show. 
Monthly data from Sri Lanka’s motor vehicle registry compiled by JB Stockbrokers research shows that registrations of brand new BMW cars rose to 281 percent to 84 in January 2013 from 22 a year earlier with 82 being 5-Series models.
Registrations of brand new Mercedes cars rose 109 percent to 23 percent in January 2013 from a year earlier.
Sri Lanka hiked taxes on cars in the first quarter of 2012, in what some analysts and the International Monetary Fund said was an inappropriate policy response (Sri Lanka trade controls take IMF by surprise).

Sri Lanka’s exchange rate came under pressure and imports surged due to tens of billions of rupees printed (central bank credit) to sterilize foreign exchange sales, during a credit bubble worsened by loans taken to manipulate energy tariffs.

At the time analysts warned that the move would deprive the state of tax revenues.
Though taxes on ordinary citizens’ cars are high, Sri Lanka’s elected political class and state functionaries get tax free and tax slashed cars.

Critics say Sri Lanka car tax regime is a prime example of how post-independence rulers have rigged the tax system to benefit the ruling political class and mistreat citizens. The practice of elected rulers giving themselves originated in the 1980s.
This year state functionaries were allowed to sell their tax slashed permits in the secondary market by the rulers. The luxury cars are believed to be imported through permits sold by state workers.

New registrations of Maruti-Suzuki cars owned by less affluent ordinary citizens fell 84 percent to 190 in January 2013 from a year earlier, the data showed.

Taxes on small cars were raised twice, drawing protests from Indian automakers that it was targeted at them.
Models of Perodua, a Malaysian small car brand also fell 68 percent to 102 from 327 in January.



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