Brunei can't be dumping ground for used cars

Second-hand sport cars are displayed near the side of the road at Menglait, Gadong. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Sunday, March 6, 2011

THE government has put in place regulations to ensure Brunei doesn't become a dumping ground for used cars and the cars meet road-safety rules, members of the State Legislative Council (LegCo) were told yesterday.

LegCo members yesterday questioned the safety and integrity of imported vehicles now that the import of second-hand vehicles has been allowed again.

LegCo members also questioned the number of licenses issued for the import of used cars and the maximum age of these cars.

Minister of Finance II, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Ibrahim, in response to these queries, said, "There is fear that the country might be used a dumping ground for these used cars, but these imports are being controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources which grants licences to the authorised companies. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance, through the Custom and Excise Department, is responsible for ... import procedure which involves the approval of permit for these cars."

Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman said there are strict guidelines, including ensuring that the importer has a business licence solely for selling used cars and that the imported cars are subject to approval from the Land Transport Department, under the Ministry of Communications, which involves technical and specification checks.

"It is noteworthy that currently, there are 3,291 used cars imported in 2010 as compared to 14,435 new cars for the same year. What needs to be done is to take a balanced approach towards addressing the importation of used cars. Used car prices are extremely competitive which applies to a large number of the public as compared to buying a brand new car," the minister said.

The minister said that the government needs to ensure the public is aware of current regulations, especially when it involves road safety.

"As for the issue of exempting import tax on cars which cost below $40,000, we need to be careful about this. Currently, the import tax rates for cars in Brunei are still lower than other countries in this region. Some countries impose tax on second-hand cars of more than 100 per cent while others can reach as much as 300 per cent," Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Rahman added.

He said that other countries also levy different taxes. He said if the import tax were abolished in the Sultanate, government revenues in the non oil and gas sector would fall sharply.

Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, who was also responding to the council members' queries, said the import licence issued to dealers was frozen in 2005, while the issuance of sub-dealers licence was ceased last year.

"With regards on the effects of environmental pollution and so forth, age issues, and prices of these cars, it will be monitored by a relevant committee at this time," he said.

Pehin Dato Hj Yahya added that there is another committee set up which consists of government agencies like the Land Department, Town and Country Planning, Municipal and so on to ensure that importers follow the rules imposed in Brunei.

Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar added that the Land Transport is seeking to limit the use of these cars as they too are concerned that Brunei will be a dumping ground for these vehicles.

"Also, it is important to ensure the safety of vehicles on the road as new vehicles are inspected closely and have stringent processes to follow by models as opposed to used cars, where each one has to be done individually," he said.

One more issue brought up by the minister of communications is that buyers of second-hand cars won't have access to after-sales services, which he said should be looked into as well for the public's sake.

"In our current policy, it is said that used cars should not be more than three years old. There are certain exceptions which allow older cars to enter, for example emotional value or vintage vehicles, but we will ensure that if it's on the road, it is safe," he said. The Brunei Times


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