Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, says that the revised Motor Vehicle Import Policy (MVIP) is near completion with the draft document to be presented to Cabinet soon.
He said that the draft was prepared by the Trade Board after consultations with key stakeholders.
“The Ministry has reviewed the policy. We have now reached the stage where we have prepared a draft Cabinet submission,” Mr. Budhan said, as he addressed a forum last evening (October 28) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston to discuss the state of the local automotive industry.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan (left) in discussion with President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton; and Director, Internal Revenue, Customs Department, Florence Howe. Occasion was the inaugural Auto Lifestyle Jamaica Forum held on Thursday (October 28) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
He informed that portfolio Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, would shortly invite the relevant stakeholders to a meeting to share the material, which he will present to Cabinet.
“We will be promulgating the policy as soon as we get Cabinet approval. That policy is what will be tabled in Parliament and will guide us going forward, but shortly after, we will also be developing regulations (which) will guide us in terms of how we regulate the industry thereafter,” he said.
The revised policy seeks to introduce new measures to govern the importation of new and used vehicles into the island. It will address import licence documentation; method of determining model year; motor vehicles dealers requirements; warranty provisions; importation of half cars, classic, and limited edition cars; disposal of vehicles; licence requirements for trucks and heavy duty equipment; importation of vehicles for companies; and importation of damaged vehicles, he informed.
The Permanent Secretary said the policy has to cater to consumers, new car dealers, and used car dealers, so the Government “is trying…to see how we can craft a policy, so that we can balance the (various interests), so that we can go forward.”
He warned that “no one group is going to get what it would like in totality…so there has to be trade off, there have to be compromises.”
Mr. Budhan advised as well that the policy will not address the duty structure, which is a matter for the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, but will deal with the “burning issues” of import licence requirements and allowable age of vehicles.
Chairman of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA), Kent LaCroix, in his contribution, bemoaned declining sales in the industry over the last few years, which he blamed on the “extremely high” motor vehicle duty regime and the strengthening of the Japanese Yen against the United States dollar.
He said that while the ADA supports the Government’s efforts to regulate the sector, there is need for a reduction in duties that “will reduce the cost of vehicles to individuals and the productive sector, and stimulate the growth and improved profits for all.”
He argued that the motor vehicle industry is now an integral part the country’s productive sector. “Vehicles are no longer a luxury, but a necessity…it is the vehicle of growth, and it is imperative that we reduce the high duty regime,” Mr. LaCroix said.
Director, Internal Revenue, Customs Department, Florence Howe, in response, explained that the import duty on motor vehicles is a fixed amount based on the Common External Tariff (CET). “That is throughout the entire Caribbean so the import duty rate is not a simple item to just change,” she pointed out
The forum was organised by Auto Lifestyle Jamaica Discussions centred on the topic: ‘The Automotive Industry: What is the Way Forward in These Challenging Times?’
Auto Lifestyle Jamaica offers multi-media products and communication services for and about the automotive and related sectors.