E-V permit scheme for migrant workers violate global norms
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW):Sri Lanka is now importing electric vehicles for local migrant workers working overseas following the the government’s approval to further extend the time line issued for importation till September 15 2023 violating global manufacturers recommendations , motor traders alleged.
This was the third time the Government decided to extend the timeline of the electric vehicles import scheme for migrant workers to encourage their remittances with good intension but it has turned to a racket by a set unscrupulous vehicle importers in hand in glove with corrupt officials , several leading motor traders complained.
The global manufacturers and authorized representatives were consulted to formulate a sustainable roll out of Electric Vehicles to SL considering the missteps of the past and failures of over 5,000 Nissan leaf vehicles which were imported against manufacturer recommendations.
This proposal was accepted and the first circular [MFE/DEV/HOB/03/ vol ii] was issued on 31st August 2022 by the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment Circular No; 02/2022).
However 09 days later, ALL of the global manufacturer recommendations benefiting consumers were suddenly reversed in a circular No; 02/2022 dated September 9 2022.
In this new circular Manufacturer warranty of 3 years was changed to a 3rd party warranty. Manufacturer recommendations of suitability to a country or region were completely ignored.
Today the electric vehicles are being imported by unauthorized parties totally against manufacturer recommendations, they pointed out.
The earlier wording limited the vehicle CIF value to a maximum of US $65,000 which still allowed vehicles from medium to luxury categories to be imported.
However, the altered circular has eliminated the maximum limit on the CIF which now enables ultra-luxury vehicles to be imported.
Such a change supported by the other alterations on the latest circular, clearly enables the ultra-rich living in Sri Lanka to import electric vehicles for their personal usage utilizing the migrant worker scheme, motor traders charged.
The cost of the High-voltage (HV) battery is about 50 percent of the total value of the EV. Hence, if the battery of the vehicle is faulty and needs replacement, the consumer and the country will have to bear almost 50 percent of the cost of the vehicle to import the battery.
This is due to the fact that almost all the EVs which have come through this scheme are used vehicles which does not carry the warranty of the manufacturer.
They asked as to why is this scheme not being opened for petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles as those vehicles have better market acceptance, have ample spare parts available in the country even now and the technical skills are freely available for maintenance.
The CIF of an Electric Vehicle is about 30-40 percent higher than a similar petrol vehicle. Therefore, the country can import about 1300 to 1400 petrol vehicles with the quantum of forex used to import 1000 EVs, several leading motor traders pointed out.
At a time when the country is low on foreign reserves and the people are deprived of vehicle imports, wouldn’t it make better sense to allow petrol and diesel vehicles to be imported through such a scheme instead of EVs? , they asked.
A majority of migrant workers are from the lower and middle class income families. The vehicles they can afford would be motorcycles, scooters and small compact cars for themselves and their families in Sri Lanka.
As of now, nearly 100 permits for four wheelers have been issued. There seems to be mostly high end luxury vehicles being imported under this scheme, which does not represent the majority of the migrant workers who are toiling hard in foreign lands, they complained.