ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka plans to set up a Three Wheeler Regulatory Authority for “tuk tuk” taxis to decide on charges and matters of standardisation, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said despite passengers deserting regulated buses in droves for innovative three wheelers.
Sri Lanka’s three wheeler sector has expanded amid falling quality and rising charges of regulated buses.
Three wheelers have fares have been kept down by competition and innovation involving call centres and now taxi apps, while regulated bus fares have risen steadily with each fuel hike.
“Although three wheeler service is vastly spread around the country, contributing immensely to the service sector in particular, as of now there is no mechanism to regulate it,” Rajapaksa told parliament Friday (12) presenting a budget for 2022.
“The need for regulating the service has arisen due to its massive expansion related issues.”
Analysts have warned that state officials developing controls on three wheelers can result in a bus-regulation type fiasco. Due to problems in regulated buses so-called school van services have sprung up.
Sri Lanka is planning to set up yet another state agency after raising taxes on the people to finance rising state expenditure.
Ironically the move comes despite President Gotabaya Rajapaksa setting up commission in early 2021 to identify and remove existing regulations that are stifling the country.
A 2019 survey showed that only 47 percent of the over one million registered threewheelers in Sri Lanka are used for hiring. Most drivers are middle aged and, for 12 percent of them, it is a secondary occupation, economic researchers have pointed out.
During the previous administration, interventionists proposed placing an age restriction of 35 years for three wheeler drivers, but this was shot down by then Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. (Colombo/Nov12/2021)