Monday, June 30, 2008

Govt clamps down on second-hand vehicle imports

Govt clamps down on second-hand vehicle imports

The government has banned the import of vehicles that are considered to be less than 80 percent mechanically sound, according to a senior policy maker.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce's Export-Import Department Director General is Mr Khoun Thannakhot.

On Friday he said the department would only allow the import of second-hand vehicles that had undergone a technical inspection.
“According to technical inspection regulations, vehicles must be at least 80 percent mechanically sound before approval can be given for them to be imported,” he told Vientiane Times.
Mr Khoun confirmed the department would enforce the regulation. He said people wanting to bring a second-hand vehicle into Laos must show a certificate of technical inspection and a duty payment receipt.

A senior official of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport said the regulation aimed to make transportation in Laos safer as the number of sub-standard vehicles on the roads was a major factor in traffic accidents.

He also said sub-standard vehicles consumed more fuel and produced more pollution. Other countries had similar policies limiting the import of second-hand vehicles, to avoid becoming graveyards for old vehicles.

Critics argue that although the government has a clear policy to ban the import of poor quality second-hand vehicles, it is a difficult policy to enforce. They say several private enterprises use loopholes in the law to import low-quality, second-hand vehicles.

Some importers arrange for vehicles to be broken up into individual components before they bring them into the country. They then ask for permission from commerce officials to import parts to supply vehicle assembly plants – a business the government is promoting.
“There's no law banning the import of spare parts for second-hand vehicles and it is difficult to identify which parts meet the standard quality requirements,” commented an industry observer.

Policy makers from the ministries of Public Works and Transport, Finance, and Industry and Commerce, who are responsible for dealing with regulations concerning second-hand vehicle imports, said they were aware of increasing numbers of sub-standard vehicles arriving in the country.
“We have raised this issue for discussion several times, but we can't find an agreement,” said a senior transport official, adding that it was necessary to hold a meeting between officials from the three ministries.

He said some policy makers still wanted to allow the import of second-hand spare parts for assembly in the country, as these provided vehicles which were in a price range that could be afforded by the average Lao family, particularly low-income rural families.

Cheap transport is essential for these families if they are to transport goods to and from rural areas to boost their incomes, activities which form part of the government's poverty eradication policy.