Importers are calling on customs officials to strictly supervise vehicles as they are brought into the country, ending the spare parts slippage.
“I imported a car and the spare electronic keys disappeared,” said Mandalay car dealer Ko Ayay Kyo. The keys are expensive, costing K50,000 to replace.
He said his experience is not unique, adding a market in Tarmwe township specialises in selling items that disappeared during import.
“If importers leave their cars at the port for a long time, it is sure they will lose something,” he said.
Importers say their losses are relatively minor – usually between K50,000 and K150,000 per vehicle. Accessories such as spare keys, gear shifts and cushions are the most likely to go missing.
Authorities have worked to end the problem, installing CCTV cameras to monitor the vehicles and holding meetings in 2013 to address the issue. Several customs officials declined to comment or could not be reached yesterday.
Workers from private companies drive the cards from the ships to the parking areas, and are outside the direct control of customers, said Ko Min Min Maung from Wun Yan Kha car sales centre.
“I don’t want to accuse them, but we can’t see if they take some accessories from our cars,” he said. “Some accessories are small and easy to hide. The customs department should supervise the cars from when they leave the ship. It can do nothing if they keep records after the cars reach the yard.”
On some occasions, the vehicles pick up dings from careless driving. Then the cars are generally defined as having been in an accident.
Ko Min Min Maung said he has experienced one car being destroyed because of a driver.
“The driver admitted what he did and wrote a letter. But the customs department defined the car as crushed. At the time, we tried to explain it was not a crushed car,” he said. “It was a very bad experience.”
Importers can easily tell parts are missing, as the cars are generally imported from Japan. The exporters are usually assiduous in recording what parts are included when the cars leave Japanese docks, leaving importers to decide which parts are missing when the vehicles arrive in Myanmar.
U Aye Htun, managing director of Nissan Myanmar, said if cars lose parts, the person responsible is likely from Myanmar. If the parts are missing from the Japanese end, they can usually complain and have the problem fixed.
Importers without parts often have to turn to the market to buy what is missing. However, prices on local markets are often more expensive than the original costs from overseas.
“If a spare key costs K50,000, we need to pay K70,000 or K90,000 at the market,” said U Min Maung.
“Sometimes we can’t find the piece we need anywhere, and the original is gone.”
U Min Min Maung said taking parts can be a lucrative business. If someone can steal 10 parts a day from importing cars, they can generate K400,000 or K500,000 a day in income. Importer Ko Aung Naing Thu said two weeks ago that it seems unfair that importers pay taxes on cars, but do not receive the whole vehicles.
“The authorities should solve this problem,” he said.
“I think thieves are doing this intentionally.”
Source: Myanmar Times