Auto in­dus­try firm against adopt­ing Sin­ga­porean sys­tem

The Myanmar Times - - Business - AYE NYEIN WIN ayenyein­win@mm­times.com

AMID the on­go­ing strug­gle to rein in the num­ber of cars in traf­fic­choked Yan­gon, deal­ers are al­ready crit­i­cis­ing what they be­lieve may be the au­thor­i­ties’ lat­est scheme for keep­ing new cars out.

The re­gional gov­ern­ment, which sets the pol­icy, has yet to con­firm that they will in­tro­duce a sys­tem of Cer­tifi­cates of En­ti­tle­ment (COE), sim­i­lar to that used in Sin­ga­pore, where would-be ve­hi­cle own­ers bid for the right to own and use a car for a set pe­riod, usu­ally five to 10 years.

U Maung Aung, sec­re­tary of the Yan­gon Re­gion Trans­port Au­thor­ity (YRTA), told The Myan­mar Times in Septem­ber that the gov­ern­ment was hop­ing to se­cure fund­ing for a COE sys­tem, but that it would have to fair and af­ford­able for all driv­ers.

Ru­mours that the gov­ern­ment is pur­su­ing the Sin­ga­porean sys­tem have sparked op­po­si­tion from the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try, although U Maung Aung this week told The Myan­mar Times the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing a sev­eral dif­fer­en­tial import sys­tems – in­clud­ing COE – but had yet to make a de­ci­sion.

U Aung Win, vice chair of the Au­tho­rised Au­to­mo­bile Dis­trib­u­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion, is skep­ti­cal that a COE ar­range­ment is right for Myan­mar.

“COE may work for an is­land like Sin­ga­pore, but it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate for a big coun­try. Yan­gon is the eco­nomic heart of Myan­mar. To func­tion prop­erly here, busi­nesses need ac­cess to ve­hi­cles. Un­der a COE sys­tem, it won’t be easy to meet ve­hi­cle re­quire­ments,” he said, adding that if the gov­ern­ment in­tends to use a COE sys­tem it should first up­grade the city’s pub­lic trans­porta­tion net­work.

“It’s not re­al­is­tic for the gov­ern­ment to limit the num­bers of cars with­out up­grad­ing the road in­fra­struc­ture. If ev­ery­body can ac­cess trans­port how­ever rich or poor they are, there’s no need for a COE sys­tem,” he said.

A sys­tem of al­low­ing im­ported cars only if the buyer can pro­duce ev­i­dence of suf­fi­cient park­ing space has been sus­pended since April, amid indi­ca­tions of wide­spread mis­use of reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments.

“The gov­ern­ment should en­cour­age pri­vate com­pa­nies to build park­ing space. That would help at­tract in­vestors,” said U Aung Win, adding that greater con­trol should be ex­er­cised over car show­rooms and sales cen­tres. “No­body knows who owns what cars, or where the cars are,” he said.

U Myint Cho spokesper­son for the car park­ing rec­om­men­da­tion is­su­ing group un­der the Min­istry of Com­merce – which analy­ses rec­om­men­da­tions from town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tors on park­ing short­ages – said dis­cus­sions with the re­gional gov­ern­ment on car im­ports to Yan­gon were con­tin­u­ing.

What­ever the even­tual pol­icy might be, deal­ers are call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to make an early state­ment.

U Myo Myint Thein, chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Toy­ota Aye and Sons – a lo­cal Toy­ota joint ven­ture – said, “I don’t like the COE sys­tem. It would mean only rich peo­ple could af­ford to buy cars, be­cause you have to buy the cer­tifi­cate at an auc­tion. But we don’t know what the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy is.”

Myan­mar Coach Cen­tre man­ag­ing di­rec­tor U Kyaw Kyaw Aung said that the most im­por­tant thing was that a pol­icy was an­nounced pub­licly, and soon.

“We heard that the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing COEs, but noth­ing has been an­nounced,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant that there should be a pol­icy for all, whether it’s COE or not. But they should tell us what the pol­icy is. They said they would do some­thing about car im­ports, but noth­ing has hap­pened.”

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