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Plates puzzle - TAJ takes steps to prevent further shortage

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2015 | 8:00 AMKawain Fearon
Kent LaCroix, chairman of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA).
New Mazda (left) and Hyundai vehicles, without licence plates as they were not yet sold, on display at Executive Motors on Marescaux Road, St Andrew, in March.
New vehicles on display withiut licence plates.
A closer look is taken at used vehicles on a dealers' lot in Kingston.
The tax collectorate at Portmore Pines, St Catherine.
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Although the recent shortage in private motor vehicle plates has been rectified by Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), the organisation is unable to say what led to the unexpected excess demand which led to the situation.

Leighton Beckles, communication officer, told Automotives that the TAJ was unable to pinpoint a factor leading to the shortage. However, he indicated that there was something taking place in the local car industry when quizzed if the overwhelming demand for licence plates were linked to an increase in new vehicle acquisitions

Beckles noted that while he could not give a definitive answer, there was "significantly higher demand for licence plates in this period compared to any other period in the history of the Tax Administration Jamaica."

On its own, though, the TAJ would not be able to pinpoint a cause.

"We wouldn't be the most competent authority to say that just now because there are several other entities that you would have to consult with to get a definitive answer. But from where we sit, in terms of the actual provision of the plates, we have seen a significant increase in the number of plates for this cycle compared

to any other. So I think it's safe to say that there is something happening in the motor-vehicle market that has contributed to a significant demand in persons demanding private plates, as well as individuals who want

to purchase plates," Beckles said.

Steps have been taken to ensure that there will not be a repeat of the situation.

"We are now seeing where the stocks in all the tax

offices across the island have gone back to their normal levels, as well as we have put in place the necessary measures to ensure this situation does not reoccur," Beckles said.

If anything, there are more licence plates than absolutely necessary.

"As a matter of fact, we have what is known as buffer stock. It simply means the amount of stock we have in place just in case there is a situation; it will allow us to continue to operate for an extended period of time before we get our restocking done.

The buffer stock level has been increased in tandem with the situation to ensure there are enough plates in the reserve to provide motorists with if we do encounter a crisis like this," Beckles said.

He continued: "We have tightened a few other internal procedures."

Therefore, motorists can now now go to the any Inland Revenue office islandwide to get licence plates, and during the shortage, many persons sought plates at offices very far from where the would normally go to. The shortage, which was due to the TAJ producers having problems sourcing raw material to manufacture plates, left the TAJ promising a mid-August relief.

This was not, however, satisfactory for larger players in the automotive industry. At one point, members of the new-vehicle organisation, the Automobile Dealers' Association moving to halt payment of motor-vehicle import duties to the TAJ in protest. In a bid to provide a quick remedy to the overwhelming demand for plates, the TAJ had asked that motorists transfer old plates to newly acquired vehicles.

kawain.fearon@gleanerjm.com