We fully supports the call by the new Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir to abolish the current policy of dishing out approved permits (AP) to certain connected parties for the purposes of importing foreign cars.
Based on earlier numbers which were disclosed in 2006 after the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attacked Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz on her role in favouring retired MITI civil servants, 33,218 APs (or 50.1% of total of 66,277 APs) in 2004 and 28,283 APs (or 41% of total of 68,330 APs) in 2005 were awarded to the trio of the late Tan Sri Nasimuddin SM Amin, Datuk Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and Datuk Mohd Haniff Abdul Aziz. In 2005, some 80% of the APs went to 20% of the companies, many of which were inter-related.
The award of these “free” APs to these individuals and their companies gave them the opportunity to amass RM1.8 billion within two years. It raises the obvious question as to how such discretionary issuance of APs will help achieve its objective of “creating a class of bumiputra entrepreneurs or uplifting the economic position of the bumiputras” as quoted in a reply to me based on a parliamentary question I raised last year.
Hence, we support the call by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Car Dealers and Credit Companies Association to open up the AP scheme for public auction to everyone, with possibly 30% restricted for Bumiputra participation.
The DAP has been calling for the current AP scheme to be abolished since it first reared its ugly head and in our proposed national budget for 2008 presented in 2007, we have called for an open auction of the APs which could raise up to RM1.5 billion annually for the treasury based on an estimated 50,000 APs issued at a conservative market value of RM30,000 each. These funds could be channelled towards public causes such as overhauling our miserable public transportation system and facilities which our new Prime Minister witnessed for the very first time yesterday.
The availability of funds are of even greater importance to the government given the necessity to expand public expenditure in light of the global economic crisis, which is hampered by the sheer lack of funds due to the shrinking petroleum-related revenues.
I'd like to reiterate our call to support the above reforms, and will certainly take a common stand with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir on this issue in the interest of openness, competition and transparency.