Illegal car importers clogging the streets

While some importers follow the rules and set up their own lots, others simply park their wares in empty spots on the street or other public areas until they are able to make a deal.

Legal car importers say their informal brethren are unfairly avoiding the rules, and can avoid paying taxes and licensing fees paid by those following the rules.

“If they simply park their imported cars on the street, there is no need to pay taxes to the government,” said U Aye Htun, managing director of Aung Thein Than dealers.

“But they are people doing business. They should follow the law. The government should also be strict with enforcement so they can get tax revenue.”

Each citizen is allowed to freely import one vehicle based on their national identity card, a rule that was introduced in 2012. Some citizens will also allow brokers to use their identity to import a vehicle in return for a payment.

Permission to import vehicles is also given by turning in older cars.

Since these rules were introduced, the car market has skyrocketed. Recent estimates obtained from the Road Transport Administration Department said there are 480,000 vehicles in Yangon Region and over 700,000 in Myanmar, representing a large increase in only a few years. A previous Ipsos report said that in 2012-13, there were 331,500 vehicles registered in the country.

U Aye Htun said the street car dealers are able to undercut those with showrooms and proper parking lots, as well as creating problems for customers.

“They are simply selling cars on the street. Who can know if they are a good man or not, and who will be responsible if the buyer faces problems with their car?” he said.

“They can also reduce the cost of the cars, so we can’t compete on a price basis.”

These importers are inventive in where they park vehicles. Some look for places with ample parking, such as a closed building, and park on the street while paying the small public parking fee each day. Others park in side streets in the suburban areas.

“Parking in the side quarters will create problems with local residences,” said U Aye Tun. “In my opinion, people who buy from these dealers do not understand the car market.”

The government has moved to counter the practice through a new draft law for motor vehicles. In state newspapers in July 3, it said that all vehicle importers and sellers and maintainers must obtain licences from the Road Transport Administration Department.

The department will have the ability to grant or deny licences, though the draft law does not describe what actions will be taken against importers with business licences who simply flout the law.

U Soe Tun, chair of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distributors Association, said many dealers cannot afford or find places for showrooms, so they sell on the street. This is against policy, and causes trouble to those that follow the law.

“Now the government has announced a new draft law, and it will support a solution to this problem.”

Other brokers say new cars often end up in compounds set aside for used vehicles.

“Some new car importers park in our lots, but they don’t know the rules. They don’t know that importers of new vehicles must open a sales centre,” said used car dealer U Aung Than Win.

Some Yangon residents complain that all the parked cars are contributing to traffic jams.

“People will keep supporting these businesses if they like the price and quality,” said Ko Aung Kyaw, a resident of Kyauktada township.

However, he said all the extra cars parked in his neighbourhood lengthen commutes and contribute to the extensive traffic jams.

Citizens should also be prepared to pay tax to the government, and spaces should be freed up for those who genuinely need a place to park downtown.

Ko Aung Kyaw said he reckons action by the authorities is the only way to tackle the problem.

“Yangon City Development Committee should be aware of what’s going on, and should take action,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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