High tow­ing fees re­flect need to end mo­nop­o­lies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - LAST WEEK,

the Hengyang high­way res­cue sta­tion in Hunan prov­ince, Cen­tral China, charged a driver 40,000 yuan ($5,970) for tow­ing his truck from where it broke down on the Xiang­tan-Leiyang Ex­press­way to the near­est au­to­mo­bile re­pair sta­tion. Bei­jing Youth Daily com­mented on Tues­day.

In April, this res­cue sta­tion hit head­lines na­tion­wide be­cause it charged a truck driver 36,000 yuan for a tow, and the per­sons in charge of the res­cue sta­tion re­ceived ad­min­is­tra­tive pun­ish­ment from the pro­vin­cial pric­ing and busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion author­i­ties.

Mo­nop­o­lies are why such ex­or­bi­tant fees ex­ist. To end the mo­nop­o­lies in the tow­ing in­dus­try is the fun­da­men­tal way to bring down the fees. In China, only road­side res­cue com­pa­nies des­ig­nated by the gov­ern­ment can en­ter the huge ex­press­way au­to­mo­bile tow­ing mar­ket. Driv­ers who re­quire tow­ing ser­vices have no other choice but these com­pa­nies.

The new bill the res­cue sta­tion in Hengyang wrote in­di­cates it is fear­less even in the face of pos­si­ble ad­min­is­tra­tive pun­ish­ment.

If the pro­vin­cial author­i­ties deal with the com­pa­nies’ bad habit as be­fore, they will show their in­abil­ity to curb, or ac­qui­esce with, the quasirob­bery in broad day­light.

As most ex­press­ways in China are State-run and State-owned, not to men­tion driv­ers have to pay a fee to use the road, the af­fil­i­ated ser­vices should be pub­lic ser­vices.

The tow­ing charges should be set at a rea­son­able level, or the mar­ket opened for com­pe­ti­tion, so as to end the mo­nop­oly and ex­or­bi­tant tow­ing fees.

China has vowed to stream­line its gov­ern­ment sys­tem and im­prove its gover­nance ef­fi­ciency, and the au­thor­ity also pledges to let the mar­ket play a de­ci­sive role in al­lo­cat­ing re­sources. The ex­trav­a­gant prof­its made from the mo­nop­oly of the Hengyang ex­press­way res­cue sta­tion and the sta­tion’s au­dac­ity in ig­nor­ing the pre­vi­ous pun­ish­ment in­di­cates the gov­ern­ment still has a long way to go to break mo­nop­o­lies, es­pe­cially in lu­cra­tive mar­kets.

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