Thursday, February 01, 2007

Custom exemption rumor

Al Ghad has a report on how people with old dilapidated vehicles are holding on to their cars, in the hope that the government will offer them a customs exemption in exchange for taking the cars off the road. Some of the owners are spending thousands of dinars each year just keeping the cars running, in the hopes of making a profit when they get the exemption.

An exemption for a high end car can be worth over 20000 dinars. Jordanians joke that the government makes more money on car taxes than the cost of manufacturing of the car. The more expensive the car, the higher the tariffs. So, many people driving the old piles of garbage on the road don’t do this because they can’t afford better cars. They do it because they hope to make a pile of money on them.

The Al Ghad report points out that the government has denied numerous times that such an exemption deal is on the way. From a financial point of view, giving exemptions for over 100000 cars is something that the government can not and will not do. A similar deal for public transport cars (servees) was done a few years ago, but this was a different issue. The servees deal was public service to passengers who had to ride in them, and to the environment. It was not because the government thinks that servees drivers should get a break.

Still, people are hoping. The prices for these old cars are inflated because of the rumor, and the government is content with simply denying this rumor. What will it take to get these cars off the road? They are a hazard to their owners, to other drivers and to the environment. The answer is simple. The annual tests to renew registrations should be used to weed out the cars that are not road worthy. I often marvel at how some of the cars I see ever pass the registration tests. Once the motor vehicle registration department starts taking this task seriously, then the nonsense about the customs exemptions can be put behind us, and these menaces can be taken off the roads.

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