KARACHI: Introduction of age restriction on import of used commercial vehicles last year pushed up sale of locally produced trucks to 2,232 units in the last 11 months as compared to 1,647 units during the same period in the last fiscal year.

Earlier, import of used trucks under the garb of water sprinklers (PCT 8705-9000 special purpose vehicle category) had been thriving with no age limit, but on the request of the local industry, the Ministry of Commerce put an age restriction of five years.

Sales of Hino, Nissan, Master and Isuzu trucks rose to 942, 331, 470 and 489 units in July-May 2013-2014 as compared to 737, 202, 476 and 232 units in corresponding period of last financial year, according to figures of Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (Pama).

A leading truck-maker said due to age restriction, import of used commercial vehicles plunged to 1,400 units in the current fiscal year as compared to around 3,000 units during 2012-2013.

He said that 4.33 per cent rise in large scale manufacturing (LSM) in July-April 2013-2014, coupled with 3.7pc, growth in export to $23.11 billion in July-May 2013-2014 from $22.2bn in 2012-2013 also propelled goods movement, thus lifting truck sales.

However, reduction in import of used commercial vehicles boosted production and sale of local industry.

He, however, said that a good numbers of used commercial vehicles were still coming in, especially under the cover of concrete mixers (PCT 8705-4000).

At present, import of used commercial vehicles has no age restriction (except 8705-9000), so imposition of suitable age limit will help control unabated import of used /second-hand commercial vehicles.

The local industry has urged the government to prohibit import of all categories of used commercial vehicles on which the condition of age limit does not apply. It is a loop-hole in the import policy which must be plugged to stop import of trucks in the garb of special purpose vehicles in such a large numbers. The assembler said a 10pc increase in institutional buying of trucks was recorded this fiscal year to 40pc from 30pc last year.

In bus segment, according to Pama figures, sale of Hino buses went up to 469 units in July-April 2013-2014 from 393 units in same period last fiscal year while sale of Isuzu buses fell to 49 units from 94 units.

A leading manufacturer said that KPK and Punjab governments had lifted good number of standard and AC buses along with trucks for various projects while some colleges, universities and private sector transporters also purchased the buses.

He stressed the need for local purchase of trucks and buses for various projects instead of allowing contractors to import such vehicles.

As various dams and coal-powered power generation projects have either started or are going to start, local industry may play a role via timely supply and services of such vehicles for such projects.

Secondly, the industry also suggested use of locally manufactured buses for various Metro bus projects announced by Punjab and Sindh governments.

“On an overall basis, the industry may supply more than 200 buses per month,” he said, adding that this would generate jobs in assembling and vending units, besides generating more taxes and duties.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2014

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