DAP calls for review of proposed excise duties for imported cars after Afta as consumers are entitled to look forward to lower car prices and meaningful choice after two decades of protection for the national car
- to Selangor DAP State and Branch leaders on the issues and challenges of the next general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): In his over-three-hour 2004 Budget presentation on Friday, the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government proposed to levy excise duties on imported cars when the automotive sector is liberalized under Afta (Asean Free Trade Area) next year.
He said since February 2003, sales of passenger cars have been declining, as consumers are postponing their purchases in anticipation of lower prices on imported cars after Afta.
He encouraged consumers to purchase cars now for themselves and their families as the prices of cars will not be lowered even after the reduction of import duties on cars from Asean countries, and reiterated the government’s intention to levy excise duties on imported cars when import duties are reduced from Jan. 1, 2004.
DAP calls for a full review of the proposed excise duties for imported cars after Afta during the parliamentary debate on the 2004 Budget beginning tomorrow as consumers are entitled to look forward to lower car prices and meaningful choice after two decades of protection for the national car. In fact, there should be an opportunity for MPs to vote on the question as to whether the government should evade the coming of Afta by substituting import duties for foreign cars with excise duties.
Malaysians are entitled to protest if they do not derive any benefit whatsoever with the coming of Afta, especially as Proton had been over-protected for some two decades and has not shown any signs of being able to stand on its own feet without government props at the expense of the taxpayers and consumers.
A little competition recently from foreign makes like Honda and Toyota had sent Proton into a crisis, requiring government support.
It is time that the interests of the Malaysian consumers should be given attention and some priority after some two decades of protection for Proton, which should not become a bailout for inefficiency, low productivity or poor management by the national car.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman