Jamaica Gleaner

Trade Board re­cruit­ing for­eign firms to cer­tify used-car im­ports

- Tameka Gor­don Busi­ness Re­porter

USED-CAR deal­ers will soon have to pay an in­de­pen­dent agency for a fact re­port on each au­to­mo­bile they plan to im­port, which the Trade Board will use to ver­ify fit­ness – a new con­di­tion that is meant to ex­pose the ve­hi­cle’s me­chan­i­cal and dam­age history be­fore it reaches Ja­maica.

The gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tor has “put out a call for in­ter­na­tional” com­pa­nies to pro­vide fit­ness cer­tifi­cates on cars that deal­ers and car bro­kers buy over­seas and is in dis­cus­sion with in­ter­ested par­ties.

The ser­vice is likely to cost an ad­di­tional US$65 to US$150 per cer­tifi­cate – the cost is to be fi­nalised – which the Trade Board said would be paid by the im­porters.

The new pol­icy will not af­fect per­sons who im­port a ve­hi­cle for per­sonal rea­sons, nor does it in­clude new-car deal­ers.

“We went out and got pro­pos­als (and) have been eval­u­at­ing the pro­pos­als. Once we sign off, we will go and in­spect the equip­ment that the com­pa­nies have,” said CEO of Trade Board Lim­ited Vic­tor Cum­mings.

The Trade Board aims to sign up sev­eral cer­ti­fi­ca­tion com­pa­nies in coun­tries like Ja­pan, a ma­jor sup­plier of used cars to the Ja­maican mar­ket. Used-car deal­ers al­ready pro­vide some doc­u­men­ta­tion on fit­ness of the ve­hi­cles they im­port, but such pa­per­work usu­ally comes from the sellers of the ve­hi­cles.

Un­der t hat sys­tem, me­chan­i­cal de­fects be­come ev­i­dent only af­ter the ve­hi­cles have been pur­chased and are be­ing op­er­ated by Ja­maican con­sumers.

The year-old Re­vised Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Im­port Pol­icy (RMVIP) sought to ad­dress the is­sue un­der Sec­tion 17, which re­quires the car deal­ers to pro­vide a pre-ship­ment in­spec­tion cer­tifi­cate for each ve­hi­cle. It will re­place the mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion sheet the deal­ers now get from an auc­tion house when buy­ing ve­hi­cles over­seas.

The im­porters are also now re­quired to “stand by the in­for­ma­tion” they pro­vide on each ve­hi­cle by sign­ing a dec­la­ra­tion sheet.

The RMVIP re­quires in­for­ma­tion on whether the ve­hi­cle had pre­vi­ous struc­tural dam­age or dam­age re­sult­ing from flood or other nat­u­ral dis­as­ter; per­cent- age tire wear; and a com­plete history of the ve­hi­cle – or a ‘car-facts’ re­port – among other stip­u­la­tions.

Deal­ers are also now asked to “sign to” the year of man­u­fac­ture, model year, and mileage – whether in miles or kilo­me­tres – on the ve­hi­cle’s odome­ter.

These mea­sures are in­tended to safe­guard con­sumers against un­fair and un­safe prac­tices, which has char­ac­terised the trade in the past, Cum­mings af­firmed.

How­ever, Lyn­valle Hamil­ton, the pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Used Car Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (JUCDA), has la­belled the new pol­icy on fit­ness cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as both oner­ous and un­nec­es­sary, say­ing deal­ers have al­ways pro­vided the mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion sheet, which cap­tures sim­i­lar in­for­ma­tion.

Cum­mings’ re­sponse: “The mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion sheet that we get from the deal­ers does not give what we re­quire. The mo­tor ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion sheet just says this is the age, and it doesn’t give all those de­tails that we re­quire, and what we want is for them to stand by the in­for­ma­tion.”

The new re­quire­ments, he added, are meant to do away with the model year dis­crep­an­cies that have arisen in the past and which saw sev­eral con­sumers un­able to rein­sure ve­hi­cles whose pa­pers turn out to have the wrong model year.

Cum­mings said the in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies be­ing sought will as­sess the ve­hi­cles be­fore they are shipped and is­sue a fit­ness cer­tifi­cate that de­tails the new stip­u­la­tions of the RMVIP.

Sun­day Busi­ness was un­able to con­firm when the in­de­pen­dent agen­cies are to be com­mis­sioned into ser­vice.

Hamil­ton says the cost of the new fit­ness cer­tifi­cates is likely to be passed to con­sumers.

Un­der the RVMIP, which has been in

ef­fect since April 2014, some 107 used car deal­ers have been re­cer­ti­fied this year.

Five were not re­cer­ti­fied, which Hamil­ton said was due to their re­fusal, un­like the other 107, to sign a dealer dis­clo­sure form – a claim the Trade Board flatly de­nied.

“Noth­ing like that goes on. We have never de­cer­ti­fied or not re­cer­ti­fied any­one be­cause of the lack of sign­ing of a dec­la­ra­tion. It could be for oth­ers rea­sons,” said Trade Board chair­man Ben­tham Hussey.

“One of the things we want them to do is to in­dem­nify us and the Gov­ern­ment so if that if a com­pany in Ja­pan gives us wrong in­for­ma­tion, they can be held li­able,” he said.

This, JUCDA said, is un­fair to the deal­ers, given that the Trade Board will be the con­tract­ing party for the in­de­pen­dent agen­cies to val­i­date a ve­hi­cle’s history.

“They want us to sign off on the dealer dis­clo­sure, and it is an en­tity con­tracted by them for us to pay that en­tity,” Hamil­ton said.

Hamil­ton rea­soned that since the in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies are to be iden­ti­fied and con­tracted by the Trade Board, deal­ers should not then be asked to in­dem­nify the gov­ern­ment agency.

“It does not ap­pear that they are con­fi­dent in the in­for­ma­tion that they [will be] get­ting from an en­tity that they ap­prove,” he charged.

Hussey said the dealer dis­clo­sure, while part of the RMVIP, can­not be en­forced be­cause the pol­icy has not been gazetted. He added, how­ever, that the process to get the RMVIP gazetted has be­gun and should soon be fi­nalised.

 ??  ?? Vic­tor Cum­mings, CEO of Trade Board Lim­ited.
Vic­tor Cum­mings, CEO of Trade Board Lim­ited.
 ??  ?? Lyn­vale Hamil­ton, pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Used Car Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.
Lyn­vale Hamil­ton, pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Used Car Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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