Government refunds import duty on motor bikes

The Maldives customs services today began to reimburse over MVR 347,936 ($22,567) levied in an import duty hike on motor bikes after an amendment to reverse the hike was ratified yesterday.

“The customs has started to hand out refunds today. The refund will be paid to companies or individuals who imported the vehicles,” Ahmed Niyaz, senior superintendent of customs said.

Import duty of motor bikes were raised from 100 percent to 150 percent on April 1 in a measure to increase government revenue but was reversed after just three weeks.

Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed told reporters last week the government had reversed the import duty hike as motorcycles had become “a basic need in the Maldives.”

Along with the import duty of motor bikes, import duty of ready-made garments was also reversed back to zero percent after it was raised to 15 percent.

During the parliamentary budget debate, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs strongly criticized the proposed tax hikes, contending that the burden of higher prices would be borne by the public.

The current administration’s economic policies – such as waiving import duties for construction material imported for resort development and luxury yachts – benefit the rich at the expense of the poor, MDP MPs argued.