NASSCO, the island’s official Toyota dealer, sought to clarify the company’s stance on operations in the car market.
Managing Director Roger Hill insisted NASSCO had neither complained about the used or “crashed car” dealers nor sought to have legislation designed by Government to limit its operation.
Brand new Hilux pickup trucks are being imported at a lower excise tax rate than NASSCO’s, he said. Hill also suggested that the Treasury was losing millions of dollars as a result.
It is a matter on which the company wrote to officials back in early 2019 to outline their concerns, he disclosed.
The letter said: “It was the importation of new high-grade fully loaded Hilux vehicles out of Thailand, at abnormal excise tax rates well below the prescribed amount, which was drawn by NASSCO to the attention of the then acting Comptroller of Customs via correspondence dated October 17th, 2016, and followed up on March 22nd, 2017.
“Having received correspondence on April 12th, 2017 from Customs stating that the matter was currently been investigated another two years passed before NASSCO subsequently met with Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland on March 27th 2019, and issued him with copies of the letters previously written to the Comptroller of Customs.
“NASSCO Ltd is one of the 356 authorized Toyota distributors in the world, which enables us to purchase directly from the factory and enjoy reduced shipping rates based on millions of vehicles shipped worldwide by Toyota.
“The importation of pick-ups into Barbados allows two rates of excise tax (62.77 per cent and 80.16 per cent) under the tariff heading 8704. This rate of excise tax is determined by the chargeable value (Customs, Insurance and Freight plus 10 per cent import duty) of $55,000. A chargeable value falling below the value of $55,000 will pay the lower rate of excise tax.
“In order for Nassco to stay in the lower excise bracket on the importation of Hilux we had to negotiate with Toyota Motor Corporation to remove features such as alloy rims, radio and fog lamps which are then imported through our parts department and installed locally. In doing this our chargeable value falls just about $5.00 below the limit.
“At the very same time we are seeing new Hilux vehicles being imported by third parties with everything that we have left out, but miraculously also including tray covers, Roll bars, leather interiors and HID lights which should carry a value of US $10,000 or more.
“I therefore ask how can this be possible? We buy directly from the factory whereas a third party must buy from a dealer who bought from a distributor, who had to buy from the factory. It passes through two extra hands.
The loss of revenue to Government on each unit of all taxes is approximately $30,000.”
Hill spoke on the matter for the first time since comments made by Sutherland during a visit to NASSCO’s River Road headquarters, were followed by an outcry from members of the public and local used car dealers.
“The Minister’s recent visit to NASSCO was at his request, following up on our meeting from 14 months earlier, and I think the Minister was indeed misunderstood in his comments, since NASSCO had not directed any concerns at legitimate used car importers,” Hill said.
Responding to one of the more recent reports on a meeting between Minister Sutherland and the used car dealers, Hill said it contained a number of erroneous statements, including that NASSCO was the sole approved valuer for used Toyotas on the island.
“I think most people are aware that there are other garages in Barbados who are approved to issue valuations of used cars including Toyotas.
Furthermore, as you can see from the date of our meeting with the Minister, our concerns had nothing to do with sales lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but referred to the three year period 2017 to 2019.
Hill said while NASSCO believed there was room in the automobile industry for innovation and entrepreneurship, this should not come by way of lost revenue to the treasury, or at the expense of legitimate operators paying the correct rates of excise tax on imported vehicles.
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