Pol­icy si­lence hurts car im­port de­mand

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Ayenyein­win@mm­times.com AYE NYEIN WIN

The mar­ket for im­ported cars has been dam­aged by the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to pro­vide di­rec­tion on its im­port pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to show­room man­agers.

THE mar­ket for im­ported lux­ury cars has been se­verely dam­aged by the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to pro­vide di­rec­tion on its im­port pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to show­room man­agers.

Show­rooms have been un­able to im­port new cars for per­sonal use, be­cause the gov­ern­ment in April told town­ship of­fi­cials in Yan­gon to stop is­su­ing im­port rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters, which are nec­es­sary to bring cars into the city for in­di­vid­ual use.

The sys­tem of rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters – which con­firm the im­porter has enough room to park the ve­hi­cle or ve­hi­cles – was in­tro­duced by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, in a bid to re­duce traf­fic con­ges­tion in the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal.

Cus­tomers who or­dered cars and paid a de­posit at the start of the year are still wait­ing to re­ceive the ve­hi­cles, said U Myo Myint Thein from Toy­ota Aye and Sons.

Many cus­tomers have com­plained and some have with­drawn their or­ders and asked for their de­posits back, he said, even though the show­room has al­ready or­dered the cars.

“We re­ally had a lot of trou­ble in July with cus­tomers try­ing to can­cel their or­ders. We have thought a lot about how to solve the prob­lem be­cause we have or­dered around 100 ve­hi­cles,” he said. “We have apol­o­gised to the cus­tomers and tried to con­vince them not to can­cel their or­ders.”

The reg­u­la­tory is­sue has mostly im­pacted the mar­ket for lux­ury cars, while cars for busi­ness use and ma­chin­ery do not re­quire a town­ship let­ter and can still be im­ported.

Sales cen­tres and show­rooms have been hop­ing for months that the gov­ern­ment will an­nounce a new im­port pol­icy, but so far they have been dis­ap­pointed, said U Min Min Maung from Wun Yan Kha sales cen­tre.

“De­mand for per­sonal im­ports is so low now in Yan­gon. We only have de­mand from other states and re­gions,” he said.

Park­ing rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters are not nec­es­sary for im­ported ve­hi­cles reg­is­tered to ad­dresses in other parts of the coun­try, which do not suf­fer from the same con­ges­tion prob­lem as Yan­gon, said U Min Min Maung.

“If a per­son lives in Yan­gon, they must ap­ply with a Yan­gon ad­dress, but this is now not pos­si­ble, so some buy­ers have bor­rowed na­tional iden­tity cards from friends or rel­a­tives in other states or re­gions, to reg­is­ter the ve­hi­cle in that per­son’s name.”

How­ever, he said us­ing a car in Yan­gon that is reg­is­tered in Bago, Man­dalay or Nay Pyi Taw could give rise to le­gal prob­lems in the event of an ac­ci­dent, be­cause they can­not be legally reg­is­tered in Yan­gon.

“This can be prob­lem­atic in the long term,” he said.

Other cus­tomers are buy­ing cars through a pro­gram in­tro­duced in 2011 that al­lows own­ers to turn in an old car in ex­change for per­mis­sion to im­port a new one, said Ko Aung Naing Htun from the Sakura sales cen­tre.

“We are sell­ing sec­ond-hand cars for busi­ness use, as be­fore. Some cus­tomers want to buy these with a re­place­ment slip, while oth­ers are sell­ing their slips to car sales cen­tres or other par­ties, be­cause they have to pay a 20 per­cent tax on the im­port price, which they don’t want to do,” he said.

“Most peo­ple now pre­fer to buy cars reg­is­tered in other states and re­gions, even though they can­not use their own name on the own­er­ship doc­u­ments. To change the name on the doc­u­ments, they have to pay tax, which no­body wants to do.”

U Myo Myint Thein said he had heard that the gov­ern­ment would al­low car show­rooms to sell new im­ports with­out the need for a rec­om­men­da­tion let­ter. “We have heard that the gov­ern­ment will re­move the re­stric­tion for mod­els built after 2014 but this may just be a ru­mour,” he said.

U Chan Mya said he did not mind wait­ing for the new pol­icy to come out, as long as it does not change too of­ten. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment changed im­port reg­u­la­tions more than a dozen times.

“We hope and believe that the gov­ern­ment will come up with the best so­lu­tion,” said U Chan Mya. “It is true that Yan­gon suf­fers from traf­fic con­ges­tion, but peo­ple also re­quire cars. We hope the gov­ern­ment can find the best bal­ance be­tween the two sit­u­a­tions.”

In July, dur­ing an awards event for the bus in­dus­try, Yan­gon Chief Min­is­ter U Phyo Min Thein said a press con­fer­ence on ve­hi­cle im­ports was in the works, but this has not yet hap­pened.

U Myint Cho from the Min­istry of Com­merce’s ve­hi­cle im­ports su­per­vi­sory com­mit­tee told The Myan­mar Times he had not yet re­ceived any of­fi­cial di­rec­tion.

‘We re­ally had a lot of trou­ble in July with cus­tomers try­ing to can­cel their or­ders.’

U Myo Myint Thein Toy­ota Aye and Sons

Photo: EPA

Im­ported sec­ond-hand cars fill a park­ing lot at Thi­lawa port in Yan­gon.

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