Boom time for country’s automobile sector

Kathmandu, March 31

The government has decided not to levy any import duty on private motor vehicles and taxis. Presently, the government levies 234 per cent import duty on private four-wheelers, 90 per cent on two-wheelers and 80 per cent on taxis.  The spokesperson for government’s automobile sector, Gopal Badbade, said the decision was taken to enable all households to own a vehicle.

Badbade acknowledged that not everyone would be happy with the government’s decision. All those who already own vehicles, as well as auto dealers, will be the worst hit, as prices of vehicles that they bought after paying a hefty import duty will come crashing down.

The spokesperson, however, said crashing prices would mean that more people would be buying vehicles and the growing sales would, to a large extent, cover losses incurred by dealers.

He added that growing number of vehicles would also mean that demand for fuel would skyrocket. Badbade said since there would be more fuel buyers petroleum prices would come down.

He said since Nepal Oil Corporation, the sole distributor of petroleum products in Nepal, would not be able to meet the growing demand of petroleum products, the private sector would fill the void and competitive pricing of petroleum products would eventually benefit consumers.

Badbade added that the government had decided to give priority to automobile dealers while issuing licence to import petrol and set up private petrol pumps. The government has also decided to give 50 per cent discount on petroleum prices to owners of old vehicles for two years to make up for the price at which they bought vehicles.

Environment activist Narayan Badair, however, thinks that the government’s move will only add to pollution and says the government should have lowered duty only on battery operated e-vehicles.

But not everyone agrees with him. Avril Fuel, who has been importing Ferraris for several years, says he has already sold all three cars that he had imported this year and the government’s decision comes in the nick of time, as he can diversify into importing petrol and avail of the priority status the government has bestowed on automobile dealers like him.

Vin Diesel Shrestha, who was named so because he was born the day Fast and Furious was first released in Nepal, says though he has just passed out of school, the government’s decision to do away with import duty on vehicles means that in a year or two he too may be able to afford a car and go vroom.

Taxi drivers on warpath

Taxi drivers are livid at the government’s decision to do away with import duty on vehicles. Travis Tamang, who heads a union of cabbies in Kathmandu, said he had bought a brand new cab two months ago after making a down payment of Rs 5 lakh. “Had I got an inkling of what was in store I would have delayed my decision to buy a taxi. Now a new cab can be had so cheap. I would have saved Rs 30,000 a month that I’ll be paying for a few years as monthly instalment.”

Taxi drivers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 1 itself to protest the government’s move.

Duty on vehicles to stay

The government has taken no decision to do away with import duty on motor vehicles, as that would lead to massive reduction in customs duty the government earns on imported vehicles. The story is part of tradition of THT to play a prank on its readers on April 1! Happy April Fools’ Day!