Help Small Businesses End The Puspakom Runaround
PM10, as Anwar Ibrahim is popularly hailed, certainly won’t have enough ears to listen to all the advice that’s being offered, whether through letters in the media or on social media.
As he said he will focus on combating the rising cost of living, I would like to address it from the transport perspective.
The one big problem for almost all small business owners who operate vans and drop-side light trucks is that they are required by law to send their vehicles for roadworthiness inspections every six months.
On paper, it looks simple because the service costs a mere RM50, it’s only twice a year, and there are 56 Puspakom centres throughout Malaysia.
But commercial vehicle owners generally dread going to Puspakom. If they go themselves, the chances are that the vehicle will fail to pass inspection at the first attempt, and they may have to take up to three tries before the “lulus” certificate is issued.
To save time, many owners opt to engage a “runner” so that the vehicle will pass the first time around. There are two choices: pay a bit less if you send the van to the runner somewhere around the Puspakom centre, or pay a premium price and have the runner take the vehicle for inspection and then return it.
As a result, the cost of operating a light commercial vehicle includes a runner’s fee as well as a “guarantee pass” fee. Puspakom earns RM50 for each commercial vehicle inspection while the runner earns more than that.
Cutting through the inspection mess
The solution is within the government’s hand. Puspakom is Malaysia’s first and only comprehensive national vehicle inspection company, appointed in 1994 by the government to undertake all mandatory inspections for both commercial and private vehicles.
The government can exclude vans and drop-side pick-up trucks (single and double-cab) from being regarded as commercial vehicles, and thus relax the requirement of mandatory inspections.
Small renovation contractors, air-conditioning contractors, plumbers, and fruit sellers can register their vehicles as being for private use. They won’t have to spend time and money every six months at Puspakom.
In the meantime, the new transport minister can start the tender process for roadworthiness inspections by inviting public-listed car companies.
Success of pick-up trucks
In 2021, pick-up trucks were the most popular commercial vehicles sold in Malaysia, with sales amounting to more than 40,000. In total, more than 56,000 commercial vehicles, including pick-up trucks, trucks, panel vans, and buses, were sold that year.
There are no restrictions on individual ownership of twin-cab and single-cab pick-up trucks. They can be used as family cars for the weekends and nights while the pickup is operated for transporting material to the customer’s house or work site.
Many business operators choose to buy pick-up trucks because these can be operated and owned as a private vehicle as well as excluded from the commercial vehicle registry.
However, they are buying expensive 4×4 pick-up trucks rather than a 4X2 which is what they need if they are operating in urban areas.
The main distraction from this proposal is that Tan Chong Motor doesn’t sell the Nissan Vanette lorry body SK82. It is imported and sold by AP holders. As soon as the government gives this inclusion to light vans and redefines drop-side pick-up lorries as pick-up trucks, there will be some manufacturers who will start to assemble this body configuration.
What about goodies for those with greater spending power?
What about providing APs, as well as import duty and sales tax exemption, to anybody buying a Tesla? It will be a small market but Tesla is the world leader in electric vehicles. Its distribution model is that it sells the cars online, and owns the physical stores: Tesla doesn’t appoint dealers, franchisees or importers.
This might be the only way to get the world’s leading EV maker into Malaysia. Will there be demand? Depends on the Malaysian appetite to buy cars when there’s a bargain. If and when Tesla is officially distributed in Malaysia, it will be a big story about a new Malaysia. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.
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