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Government tightens

Pre-shipment inspection of used cars begins February

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 26, 2018



THE Government's pre-shipment inspection regime for imported used motor vehicles, which is expected to provide greater protection for consumers, will come into effect next month.

The regime was expected to be instituted in July last year. However, it was delayed, but an explanation has been given for the delay.

The need for inspections arises from the fact that there are discrepancies that have adversely affected several purchasers of pre-owned or used motor vehicles in recent years, as it relates to the model year of vehicles being older than supporting documentation, and tampering with the odometers.

People sometimes roll back rental car odometers to avoid paying mileage fees. They may also tamper with odometers when they want to make more money selling a used auto.

The average rollback is about 30,000 miles (48,000 km), which may increase the sale amount by thousands of dollars. Consumers have been advised to avoid odometer fraud by examining titles, maintenance records, inspection stickers, tyre tread depth and vehicle parts.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda confirmed earlier this week that the Government has contracted a Japanese firm to examine all used vehicles being shipped to Jamaica.

He said that this has become necessary because of the tampering with pre-owned motor vehicle odometers to reflect lower mileages, and other irregularities.

The pre-shipment inspection programme is already contained in the current Motor Vehicle Import Policy, which was adopted in April, 2014.

It entails the physical inspection of goods being carried out in the country of export prior to shipping, so as to establish the exact nature of the goods.

It will seek to ascertain the history of the vehicle (accidents, major repairs), conformity to age limit (model year), roadworthiness, radioactive/microbial contamination and odometer reading.

The benefits expected to be derived from the activity include raising the standard of the national fleet; improved road safety; prevention of undervalued vehicle invoices and stolen automobiles entering Jamaica; detection of odometer and documentation fraud; detection of radioactive contamination of vehicles; and minimising the risks of pests and diseases being imported.

“Moreover, from a revenue perspective, accurate motor vehicle valuations will redound to the benefit of the public purse and better facilitate Government spending in the national interest,” Samuda said.

He said that importation is based on information given to the ministry by the people who are importing the vehicles. However, he said that the ministry found that there were discrepancies, at times, between the age of the vehicle stated and the mileage. “The odometers would reflect a hardly used vehicle and, therefore, it attracted a much higher price,” Samuda said.

He said that after inspection and careful examination, the Trade Board Limited (TBL) came to the conclusion that due to the number of such incidents, the Government had to do something about it.

“In an effort to ensure that the consumers of Jamaica get the best possible deal, we felt it necessary to step up the pace and to get it introduced no later than the 1st of February,” the minister said.

One of the important new developments will be the fact that, having examined the vehicle, and determined the accuracy of the condition of the vehicle, the exporter would then have no access to the vehicle, as it would be isolated and shipped directly to Jamaica.

“So, there is no likelihood of contamination after the inspection,” Samuda assured.

Ultimately, the new regime aims to provide a transparent motor vehicle importation policy that safeguards consumers.

Samuda said that his ministry had to move ahead very quickly, after being informed that there was an accumulation of vehicles abroad for shipment to Jamaica, which he suspected was in anticipation of the new regulatios.

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