Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland. (FP)

Government is aiming to implement a new vehicle policy by year end for car dealerships that would seek to create a level playing field for the new, used and crashed cars market, to bring irregularities to a halt.

Word of this has come from Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, who announced that in addition to new legislation, a new vehicle policy to govern the importation and assembling of vehicles, and issues related to concessions and taxes on electric and hybrid would also be examined.

The Minister noted that last year, he was approached by General Manager Roger Hill during his first visit to NASSCO where the practices regarding the importation of vehicles was raised.

Speaking to the media at NASSCO Limited on River Road after a follow-up meeting with Mr. Hill and Sales Director Roger Moore on Friday, the Minister pointed out that he was not against used car dealers, but was cognizant of the need to bring all players on a level playing field.

“We are in the process of implementing a vehicle policy legislation which would address some of the irregularities and anomalies,” Mr. Sutherland added.

To emphasise his point, the Small Business Minister cited the example of one dealer who had imported new Toyota Hilux vehicles with far more than the basic accessories and only attracted an excise tax rate of 47.7 per cent, as opposed to 65.5 per cent excise tax rate for vehicles with more than the basics. 

Mr. Sutherland said in this case, the vehicles were being sold for up to $25,000 less than what they were being sold for at NASSCO.

“Those third-party dealers were able to import the vehicles and sell them at a much lower price having attracted the same duties [as those with basic accessories],” he explained, while pointing out that the planned changes would have no effect on the prices being offered by authorised dealers.

The Minister continued: “The reality is that consumers want a fancy vehicle with the fog lights and crash bars and leather seats, but I believe that we have to make the playing field level. The vehicular policy will ensure that the importation of vehicles whether used or new, will fall under the new policy.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Hill thanked the Minister for visiting his operations and pointed out that the issue was raised with the Customs Department on several occasions.  

“We brought this situation for many years to different people in Customs, yet we have really gotten no action. I went to the Minister and he promised he would look into it and we will see what results we can derive from this situation,” he said.

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