Unhelpful help

Car owners affected by flooding of underground car parks submitted a petition to DSAT, claiming the taxation relief scheme is not effectively helping, but instead leading to lump-sum payoffs of loans on damaged vehicles if disposed of. Car park operators are yet to make an appearance, with owners urging accountability for the lack of water pump systems. Gov’t relief scheme is also limiting the car recycling industry, says association chairman.

Car owners who were affected by the severe flooding of five underground car parks due to Typhoon Hato hitting the MSAR, submitted a petition to the Transportation Bureau (DSAT) yesterday.
The spokesperson of the group, surnamed Ng, revealed that the recent taxation relief scheme proposed by the government is not effective in helping affected owners, given that owners who need to dispose of their vehicles and write off their vehicle registration would be required to pay the whole amount of the vehicle loan to the banks at once.
Earlier last month, the government announced that owners of vehicles with flood damage must cancel the vehicle registration lodged with the DSAT in order to enjoy the government’s special tax relief scheme when purchasing a new vehicle.
The scheme allows for a refund of up to 80 per cent on the tax that was originally paid on the now flood-damaged vehicles, to be made available when a new conventionally-powered vehicle is purchased.
A 100 per cent refund on the tax that was originally paid on the now flood-damaged vehicles would be available if a new vehicle powered by alternative energy sources - liquid natural gas, hydrogen, solar power, or electricity – is purchased.
As such, the group is urging the MSAR Government to introduce an interest-free loan for affected owners, similar to the support that was provided to SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), in order to allow owners to repay the amount owed to the banks or to purchase new vehicles.
“We also wish that the government could roll out the policy as soon as possible,” said Ng. “They [the government] had said that policies need legal support in order to be implemented officially,” he commented.
As such, Ng stated that owners are worried whether the related legislation would have to pass through the Legislative Assembly.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson said that representatives of the affected parking lots never showed up to meet the affected owners.
“We have contacted the management companies of these parking lots, but all they say is that they are waiting for the government’s decision, and they also stressed it was because of a natural disaster,” noted Ng.
The group opined that the disaster relating to the parking garages was more of a man-made incident, stating that parking lots should be equipped with pumps or other equipment, indicating that it is unacceptable to have vehicles left flooded for six days.
Because of the circumstances, the group is urging the government to investigate the management companies of the parking lots for accountability.
“Also, these parking lots should not be operating until the government has conducted an investigation,” said Ng.
On the other hand, the spokesperson also denounced the discovery of an illegal worker working in one of the parking lots in question, located near the Border Gate, while also disclosing that there were some 700 vehicles affected by the flooding.

DSAT undermining recycling business
The chairman of the Vehicles Recycle Industries Association, U Wei Kun, said DSAT is undermining the business of recycling flood-damaged vehicles.
“It is inappropriate that DSAT is forcing residents to hand their damaged cars to them for disposal,” said U. “Some of these vehicles can be re-sold to us and we could sell these vehicles outside of the country to be recycled into other materials.”
According to U, in usual cases, car owners who wish to dispose of their vehicles would sell their damaged vehicles to recycling companies.
“They [the government] is not allowing people to earn extra money off of their damaged vehicles,” said U.
Also, given the limited time available, U said the industry is not able to handle the massive amount of vehicles in a short period of time.
DSAT has urged owners to remove their vehicles from the affected parking garages by September 18.
Speaking to Business Daily, U said the government’s policies for resolving the problem are in fact creating further inconveniences.
“They are trying to remove those cars from the affected parking lots as soon as possible so that these parking lots can resume operations, because many of these management companies are related to the government,” opined U. “The tax rebate is also nonsense because car owners can only benefit by purchasing a new car,” he pointed out.
Moreover, U also denounced the government for using its idle land to store the damaged vehicles while the industry is running out of storage space.
“And the government will not rent out their sites to us,” said U.
Yesterday’s petition was organised by legislator Si Ka Lon, who said that the government should set out regulations regarding compensation for fatalities and losses incurred by the disaster.