Baffled Mukhriz rejects debate dare

How is a Pakatan-led government going to handle car prices by auctioning Approved Permits, the deputy minister asks.

Patrick Lee, FMT

PKR’s plan to reduce car prices, as far as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) is concerned, is baffling.

Deputy Minister Mukhriz Mahathir said this in response to PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli, who suggested that car Approved Permits (AP) go through an open tender.

“His logic really baffles me. On the one hand, he says he wants to bring down car prices. On the other, he says we should auction APs.

“He hasn’t explained how to bring car prices down when [it is priced at] RM50,000 to RM60,000 per AP. So what does a [Toyota] Camry cost by the time he’s done with that?” he told reporters.

Previously Rafizi had said that Malaysia risked losing RM3 billion every year when the government charged a set price of RM10,000 per AP.

Instead of this, he said that it would be better for an open tender on these APs, which would result in revenue. He argued that these funds would help to remove the high excise duties on cars today.

Mukhriz, however, ridiculed this notion, saying that the RM10,000 AP price tag was a boon for the automotive industry.

“The RM10,000 is not a fee. It’s something that goes into a fund that helps the industry because we need people who are in the car dealership business to divest into other parts of the automotive industry.

“That’s the whole intent. We’re not just collecting duties for the sake of increasing revenue for the government,” he said.

At the same time, he said that Rafizi’s AP plan contradicted Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s own plan; a gradual tax reduction scheme.

He added that he did not wish to attend or take part in a Pakatan Rakyat forum on the matter tonight, though Mukhriz seemed interested in what the opposition had to say.

Malaysians often have to pay large amounts of duties and taxes before they can own a car, making prices here some of the highest in the region.

It is not uncommon to see Proton – Malaysia’s national car – models more expensive here than they would be in countries such as Australia.