Sri Lanka cuts duty on cars
COLOMBO // Sri Lanka has slashed duties on imports, cars and consumer goods in a bid to boost post-war economic activity. A 15 per cent surcharge on all shipments into the country was lifted last week, with immediate effect, while vehicle duties, running at 350 per cent, were halved, the finance ministry said in a statement. It said tourism had picked up following the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels last year after a decades-long conflict and that the economy needed fresh impetus to grow. As well as the soaring vehicle duty, the government had also made it difficult to bring cars into the country by ordering banks not to finance such imports as it grappled with a severe foreign exchange shortage two years ago. However, Colombo has since negotiated a $2.6 billion bail-out plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the country's foreign reserves have shot to a record $5.3 billion. The IMF loan was approved last July, two months after the end of the conflict with the Tamil Tiger rebels that is estimated to have claimed 100,000 lives. Sri Lanka's economy is forecast to grow 6.5 per cent this year, up from 3.5 per cent in 2009.