KINGSTON — Effective December 1, 2011, the maximum age limit of certain categories of used motor vehicles that can be imported, will move from three to five years for motor cars and from four to six years for light motor vehicles.
The extended age limit will affect motor cars, sports utility vehicles, pick-ups and cargo vans.
This policy shift was announced by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Christopher Tufton, during a media briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on November 22.
Rationalising the new policy, the Minister explained that the industry had declined significantly, hitting an all time low in 2009. “The used car industry was hard hit by the global recession, increased demand from other markets for 3 year-old cars as well as unfavourable movements of the Japanese currency. This resulted in a decline of over 57 per cent between 2008 and 2009,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton further pointed out that while the duty reduction implemented to stimulate the industry at the beginning of the financial year resulted in an estimated 14 per cent increase in the importation of all vehicles for the period April to September, 2011, relative to the corresponding period in 2010,sales in the used car sector has since tapered due to cost considerations.
He emphasised that it is against this background that the policy modification is being implemented, “to make motor vehicle more affordable to lower income groups who cannot afford to purchase new cars as well as to boost activity in the used car sector.”
The Minister said the revised age limit is expected to go a far way in stabilising the sector by stimulating growth through increased sales in used cars. This should result in multiple benefits of increased government revenues, increased consumption and more employment.
Another important policy shift being considered is the establishment of a Jamaican Register of Imported Vehicles.
This new facility would be monitored by the Trade Board and would involve the placement of a standard identification Code Number on all relevant Government of Jamaica-issued documents, such as the import entry, certificates of registration, fitness and title. This identification code will follow the vehicle throughout its useful life.
The Jamaican Register will also help to verify whether or not the vehicle was imported as damaged.
President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA), Lynvalle Hamilton, in welcoming the modified policy governing the importation of used cars, said that consumers should begin to experience the cost benefits of the extended age limit on imported used motor vehicles early in the New Year.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter