The government may re-impose a vehicle quota system as part of efforts to curb the rising number of vehicles in Vientiane, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Boumy Manivong told local media recently the government had assigned the ministry to develop concrete measures to cut down the rising number of vehicles in the country, one of the causes of traffic congestion in major cities.
“The ministry is discussing what measures, it will impose to control rising vehicle numbers in accordance with the government advice,” he said. “If necessary, we may consider re-imposition of the quota system.”
Laos imports almost all vehicles for domestic consumption. The country only has facilities that produce motorbikes. Therefore, the government considers it the role of the commerce ministry to address the rising vehicle numbers in the country.
The government abolished the quota system a decade ago, allowing car dealers to import as many vehicles as they can find a market for, creating opportunities for Lao people to access cheaper cars.
Rapid economic growth and the government policy to allow instalment payments for car finance has resulted in a sharp rise in vehicle numbers, in particular sedans and pickups. There are more than a million vehicles in the country despite the population being only 6 million.
Mr Boumy said that under the quota system, the ministry will be able to ban imports of second hand vehicles into the country, adding that second hand vehicles numbers in the country have seen a big surge over the past five years.
He also said under the quota system, the ministry will only allow the import of new cars and spare parts into the country.
The government has already officially banned imports of second hand vehicles but enforcement of the policy is not effective as many business people who have already imported vehicles, but not completed tax clearance, have urged the government to suspend the ban.
They said they had not prepared for the ban and already invested large amounts of money importing the second hand vehicles. Therefore, the government should give them a final chance to run their businesses and sell their stock.
Many car dealers said that imposition of the vehicle quota system would limit car numbers which would have a negative impact on car dealers, adding that the price of cars would increase and consumers would find them unaffordable.
Numerous members of the public have also expressed concerns the imposition of the vehicle quota would force consumers to pay more, adding that demand for private vehicles in the country is still rising as public transport is not effective.
They said the government should improve the public transport system, which will convince members of the public to use the system as is the case in many other countries.
Many people in Europe do not want to purchase a car because it is easier for them to use public transport instead of driving to work, one member of the public said.
Source: Vientiane Times