PETALING JAYA, 27 April 2009: Politicians on both sides of the divide agree with the government’s suggestion to scrap Approved Permits (AP) for imported vehicles.
Gerakan vice-president and head of its central economic bureau, Datuk Mah Siew Keong, said the AP scheme should be stopped immediately as it was “protectionist”, “monopolistic”, and had only benefited a few businesspeople.
Mukhriz “Opening the scheme would also open up more business opportunities for all Malaysians, irrespective of race and creed,” Mah said in a statement today in response to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
Mukhriz had said the government was considering an end to the AP scheme.
Auction for revenue
Meanwhile, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said APs, if not cancelled, should be awarded through a public auction that could raise revenue for the government to improve things like public transportation.
Pua said the DAP supported the proposal by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Car Dealers and Credit Companies Association for the AP scheme to undergo public auction, with a suggested 30% quota for bumiputera participation.
He said an open auction of APs could raise RM1.5 billion annually as revenue for the government, based on an estimated 50,000 APs issued worth at least RM30,000 each.
Pua said APs had all the while been dished out to “certain connected parties”. He recounted that in 2006, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused then International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz of favouring retired civil servants when issuing APs.
Tony PuaPua also cited past figures that about 50% of 66,277 APs in 2004, and 41% of 68,330 APs in 2005, had been awarded to three prominent corporate figures: the late Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, and Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz.
“The award of these ‘free’ APs to these individuals and their companies gave them the opportunity to amass RM1.8 billion within two years.
“It raises the obvious question as to how such discretionary issuance of APs will help achieve the objective of creating a class of bumiputera entrepreneurs or uplifting the economic position of the bumiputera,” said Pua, who is also the Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament.
“We will take a common stand with Mukhriz on this issue in the interest of openness, competition and transparency,” Pua said.
Mah added that cancelling the AP scheme would be yet another step in adopting more liberal and transparent national policies to follow on the heels of the government’s move to liberalise the services and financial sectors.