Ian K Ramdhanie, msC,
Foreign used car dealers say their storage costs are adding up as scores of six-year-old vehicles ordered before Government introduced a new policy are stuck on the ports in T&T and Japan.
President of the T&T Automotive Dealers’ Association (TTADA) Visham Babwah is now claiming victimisation and is accusing Government of deliberately delaying the import licences they need to clear the vehicles.
Under the new policy, which was announced by Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon last month, sets a new age limit of four years on foreign used vehicles. She later said vehicles which had already been purchased or were en route to Trinidad and Tobago prior to January policy revision be exempt from the change.
“It has been one month since the Government enforced the policy for the four-year-old cars. We have been told and promised by the Trade Minister and the Prime Minister that the cars we have paid on and the cars that are sitting in Japan and the ones that have been shipped, we would get the license to clear these cars,” Babwah told the T&T Guardian.
“We have not received any licenses to clear these cars nor permission to ship these cars that have been sitting in the warehouses in Japan.”
Babwah said foreign used dealers are paying up to US$50 a day per car for storage space in Japan and $40 US per day per car at the port in T&T.
“Government’s change of policy was done with immediate effect and we are still asking why this was done with immediate effect since our documents are still at the Ministry of Trade awaiting approval.”
He said the TTADA plans to take action to highlight the situation starting with a protest today from 12.30 pm to 2 pm on the Brian Lara Promenade opposite Nicholas Towers in Port-of-Spain.
The Trade Ministry has embarked on comprehensive review and audit of the foreign used car industry and is expected to have discussions with all relevant stakeholders. The review is due to be completed by March 31, following which a revised policy covering the period 2016-2020 will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration.