Car imports for disabled stalled by bad policy

Published: December 3, 2010
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Narrow criteria deny disabled people chance to import cars duty-free

Narrow criteria deny disabled people chance to import cars duty-free

LAHORE: Citizens have complained that the policy allowing the disabled to import duty-free cars outfitted with special devices for driving assistance is unreasonable and has prevented any disabled people from taking advantage of the offer.

Since the Ministry of Commerce issued a notification on September 28, 2009, outlining the terms and conditions for the duty-free import of such cars, not a single car has been imported although 19 applications are under process, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to the notification, the disabled are allowed custom-free import of cars of up to 1,300cc capacity for their personal use, subject to certain conditions, such as having a valid driver’s licence and a verifiable income of Rs20,000-100,000 per month. Once an applicant has submitted the required documents and been assessed as genuinely disabled by the Federal Board of Disabled Persons, he or she is due an import authorisation certificate from the Ministry of Commerce.

But the applicants said that the terms and conditions are unreasonable and the authorisation process is time-consuming.

And a leading advocate of rights for disabled people complained that the board was incompetent and incomplete since it didn’t contain a doctor.

Shah Ismail, a disabled applicant from Karachi, said that he had submitted his driving licence, disability certificate issued by the provincial Social Welfare Department, and income tax payment documents to the authorities concerned, but the Ministry of Commerce had yet to issue him a car import authorisation certificate. He said he initially spent a lot of time and energy visiting the government offices to submit documents and press officials, but now had no expectations of receiving the certificate.

Dr Hamid Mazhar from Faisalabad complained that he was unable to get a customs-free car for his disabled 22-year-old daughter because she didn’t have a valid driving licence.

“How can a person who was born disabled get a driving licence in the absence of cars outfitted with special gadgets that would allow her to drive in the first place? And there are no driver training centres for disabled persons,” he said.

He also objected to the condition that applicants submit their last three income tax returns to the Ministry of Commerce to verify their income.

This meant it was available only to disabled people with jobs, he said, and so he couldn’t buy the car for his daughter from his own money.

Dr Khalid Jameel Akhtar, who is known as ‘Big Brother’ for his work helping the disabled, said the medical board was incomplete.

“You can judge the government’s intentions from the incompetent medical board formed to evaluate disabled people. It does not even have a medical expert.”

He said that the import of Hondas or Toyotas, the most popular carmakers in Pakistan, was not possible as these companies produce cars locally as well and did not allow the import of cars made elsewhere. He said no other companies were manufacturing cars of less than 1,300cc capacity that could be fitted with gadgets for the disabled and which could be imported.

Dr Akhtar also criticised the requirement that cars imported for the disabled should have a special registration plate with a distinctive colour bearing the words “Disabled Person’s Car”. He said such distinctions could have damaging affects on the psyche of the car’s driver.

He suggested that the government give the disabled a 50 per cent subsidy for the purchase of locally-assembled and reconditioned cars, three-wheelers and motorcycles. The government should allow the disabled to import any type of non-luxury vehicle, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Tariq
    Dec 3, 2010 - 11:03AM

    There should be an evaluating team, the license and income tax requirements are useless.Recommend

  • majid
    Dec 22, 2010 - 6:21PM

    this is not a policy
    its only a slap on disabled faseRecommend

  • Inayat Ullah Shah
    Dec 25, 2010 - 9:52PM

    I work in a motor workshop as a dentor. I’m disable too, I ‘ve a good command over driving, and possess a driving licence too. instead of this skill I can’t avail this oppertunaity, due to the complicated process for us. I live in Balochistan, comparatively a backward province, majority of people are poor and illeterate. I being unawared with NTN, its difficult for me to provide past three years statement at the time of submiting my application for the same. So, in this connection, I request to higher authorities that we should be exempted from this criteria. Recommend

  • ummear khan
    Dec 30, 2010 - 11:39AM

    Pakistani Govt are joking for disabled persons,also teasing them. The Govt. have to provide them relaxation so that every disable person whose are facing problems for their movment, but very sorry to say specially Punjab Govt are creating hurdles so that disable person lose heart and be back/ not to import car but why Mr. CM i ask question Why? i think you do not awar what is disablity, you do not know their problems therefore, your health dep are creating hurdles. I request please granted 50 percent subsidy for purchase of local assembled or three year recondition cars should be allowed to disable person please Recommend

  • SYED MOAMMAR-UL-ISLAM
    Jan 19, 2011 - 1:48PM

    Dear Team i have a question, that my father i a registered disable person and have a valid reason to import the cars, but the question is that, in the light of the SRO issued for import policy where clearly mentioned that only Disable will drive the Car, no one Other could Drive the Same vehicle. So it is un-fair condition intact with the notification, because due to age factor he serveral time need the mobility on Car he can not drive the same in night or other times. So it should cut it out, because cited scheme is for the welfare of the Disable people not for their head pain.

    Reards

    S.MOAMMAR-UL-ISLAMRecommend

  • Rizwan
    Jan 25, 2011 - 11:28AM

    I am a disabled person, having lost my right foot in an accident.
    I have turned 25 years now and don’t possess a valid driving license.
    I visited driving license issuing department in the near vicinity of my locality but was disappointed to see the pre-requisties and conditions involved to attain a driving license.
    I intended to make the most of the policy, announced by ministry of commercer, Pakistan; regarding import of a duty-free car. But having found the complications in the very initial process of acquiring a valid driving license, I feel pitty in the system. The authorities, responsible to provide driving license, ask me whether I am in possession of special vehicle. How could I fill this very thing into their deaf ears that I need driving license to apply for special vehicle. Although, I have managed to learn driving skills on normal cars too. But due to my disability, nobody is bothered to allow me to possess a normal driving license, although I am ready to undergo any sort of driving test, either written or practical.

    Hats off to our policy makers, who formulate policies for nothing but making mockery of specail person (Diasabled) and indulging them in the useless pre-requistes.

    Hats off to our driving license issuing authorities, who dont turn even a deaf ear to as special person.

    Pakistan ka Khuda he Hafiz….Recommend

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