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Used Car Conspiracy Claims ‘Couldn’T Be Further From Truth’ 

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

CLAIMS of a “conspiracy” to force Bahamians to purchase more expensive vehicles “couldn’t be further from the truth”, the Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive said yesterday.

Edison Sumner told Tribune Business he wanted to “completely dispel the myth” that last week’s Standards Bureau-led visit to Japan, which assessed pre-export inspection processes for used vehicles shipped to the Bahamas, had any ulterior motives.

Multiple online responses on Tribune242.com to this newspaper’s reporting of the visit described it as an effort to “squeeze the small man” by raising the cost of used vehicles, with suggestions there was a ‘conspiracy’ involving Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA) members, the banks and government to drive Bahamians to purchase new vehicles.

This, numerous readers argued, would benefit the three parties involved in terms of increased sales, car loans and revenues at the expense of consumers, but Mr Sumner said mission’s sole objective was to protect the health and safety of Bahamians by enhancing the quality of vehicle imports.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told Tribune Business. “The idea that this was a conspiracy is very far from the truth. Even from the private sector side, we’re seeking to improve the quality of vehicles on the roads of the country, and that has to be done through a very extensive testing process. “We want to make vehicles and amenities more affordable to the Bahamian public, but we want to do it in a way that not only allows them to access quality vehicles but ones that are roadworthy in every sense of the word and environmentally friendly.”

Mr Sumner, in his capacity as a Standards Bureau Board member, together with other directors and BMDA chief, Fred Albury, went to Japan on a week-long mission at the invitation of EAA Company, which conducts technical inspections on pre-owned vehicles prior to their export to the Bahamas and other countries.

The delegation assessed EAA’s pre-inspection process, with the company having offered a public-private partnership (PPP) “at no cost” to the Government to perform examinations of all Bahamas-bound vehicles for roadworthiness, emissions and radiation before they leave the dock.

At present, the Bahamas has nothing to certify the roadworthiness of used vehicle imports, creating potential health and safety problems for consumers, and a potential environmental hazard from the wrecks dumped on New Providence roadside.

Buyers in such instances do not receive ‘value for money’, and the ‘saturated’ market created by the influx of used auto imports also depresses sales/prices and government revenue.

Mr Sumner said there was no intention to force Bahamian consumers to buy a particular type of vehicle, or drive them to a certain segment of the market, as a result of the delegation’s Japan trip.

“There is no conspiracy going on,” he reiterated. “The Government, private sector and consumer protection agencies are all looking out for the betterment of the country.

“It’s going to be very important to articulate that very precisely and clearly as to how this will be beneficial to the average Bahamian. I would like to completely dispel that myth, and if there is any Bahamian out there that has that impression I want to say emphatically that’s not the case.

“This is to improve the quality of vehicles on the road in the country, and Bahamians driving at optimal standards in compliance with International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards that govern the use of vehicles in our country.”

Mr Sumner declined to comment on the delegation’s findings, saying he did not want to pre-empt a written report that was being prepared for Dion Foulkes, minister of labour, who has ministerial responsibility for the Standards Bureau and consumer protection, and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Tribune Business sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the Japan trip as “very fruitful and productive”. Dr Renae Ferguson-Bufford, the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality’s (BBSQ) director, and who led the delegation, declined to comment due to the report being prepared for the policymakers.

Suspicions, though, continue to linger in some quarters over the Japan trip’s motivations. A Bahamian investor group that proposed an annual automated vehicle inspection process to the Government three years ago questioned why the Government was “running to Japan” when such technical examinations could be done at home by its own people.

Franklyn Robinson, a principal in the Bahamas Automobile Safety and Inspection Centre group, told Tribune Business that the delegation’s visit amounted to “a waste of taxpayer funds” given that his group’s proposal would accomplish the same thing and make pre-import inspections in Japan unnecessary.

“The question is: Why is the country running to Japan?” he argued. “It’s a waste of public funds to send a team from the Bahamas to do what the Bahamas should be doing itself.

“When I look at this invitation, I think it’s an attempt to somehow make it difficult for Bahamians to make a decision on where they spend their money and purchase their vehicles.

“Bahamians were forced into having to look at places like Japan due to vehicles being unaffordable in the Bahamas.... I feel that in a free trade system Bahamians should be able to go and purchase a car where they want to purchase a car.”

Mr Robinson conceded that high Excise Tax rates of 60-65 per cent were a major factor in pricing new automobiles beyond the reach of many Bahamians, driving them in increasing numbers to the used car market since the 2008-2009 recession.

However, Charles Beneby, his partner in Bahamas Automobile Safety and Inspection Centre, argued that new car dealers were making themselves “irrelevant” by stubbornly refusing to adjust their business model to consumer incomes and tastes.

“The Japanese market offers an opportunity to own a car without the heavy financing necessary to go through the local car dealers,” Mr Beneby said. “There’s a failure to see the obvious where car dealers are concerned.

“The market has changed, their model has not, and they’re becoming irrelevant. The guys on the corner are able to buy in Japan, bring them here and have replaced the dealers in the car market. It’s not sitting well with them.

“The Bahamian public is realising they don’t have to spend $60,000 on a vehicle to ride around in Nassau, and can get a $7,500 car with no financing, no overhead, no mortgage on the car. As a resident of the Bahamas, purchasing in Japan and the European market is providing me with a win-win.”

Bahamian new auto dealers would likely retort that they are having to compete on an unfair, uneven ‘playing field’ with street dealers who likely pay no VAT, NIB contributions, Business License fees and other taxes, and who do not incur their overheads and staffing costs.

But Mr Robinson, echoing Mr Beneby, added: “They have refused to adjust to the reality. The ability to go online and purchase a car has freed me from this dinosaur. Now the model has changed, they’re complaining.

“Our proposal provides the Bahamas with its own inspections regime. I don’t need somebody in Japan inspecting a vehicle for me. It’s the Bahamas’ responsibility to inspect a vehicle on Bahamian roads. It’s unnecessary, and I think it’s an attempt to further drive Bahamians to a certain segment of the business community.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 4 months ago

This is laughable. The amount of broke down cars that JUST got a brand new license plate this year that should never be on ANY road in any country is unbelievable. The Bahamas DOES NOT inspect all cars, only the ones that haven't bribed someone at RTD....

OBVIOUSLY there is something extremely fishy about this Japan trip. Personally I think Mrs. Minnis just wanted to go to Japan...

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proudloudandfnm 4 months ago

I passed a cargo truck a few minutes ago. No brake lights. No turning signals. No tail gate. The right front wheel was bent inwards about 15 degrees. And the truck has a shiny, brand new license plate. Just passed our "inspection"....

Anyonr who believes this trip was about improving cars inbox me. I got a toll bridge to sell ya....

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thephoenix562 4 months ago

Really ?? When is the official visit to Florida taking place?Hundreds of wrecked cars are being imported every month from Florida, I haven't heard a peep from the so called Standards Bureau.

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ohdrap4 4 months ago

the standards bureau sets standards for car dealers.

This same bureau said many gas stations short us on fuel everyday. they have dine peep about it.

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realitycheck242 4 months ago

The one recommendation i would like to see from any delegation findings is the adoption and setting of very stringent fuel efficiency standards in the Bahamas comparable to Japan in the short term and a long term recommendation to go green with 100% electrical vehicles by 2030. Most of us are aware of electrical cars but Tesla is now building electrical 16 wheeler Rigs thus proving that Battery powered vehicles can be produced of any size.

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Damifiknow 4 months ago

When the minimum wage is 5.50 an hour and the duty on a car is 65 to 85% plus the cost of shipping ,insurance , bunker ,paperwork fees ,port fees ,cost of the vehicle x 7.5% of the total transaction turns a scrapyard car into a creme puff !

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BahamasForBahamians 4 months ago

Edison Sumner cant possibly think that anyone other that his co-conspirators believe any of the filth that leaves his mouth.

@proudloud is spot on.

If anyone thinks Fred Albury (BMDA president and Executive Motors owner), Edison, Hubert Minnis or his not so good looking wife have the average Bahamian's interests at heart there is another think coming.

PSA : Order as many Japanese cars as you can. Enough to fill your lots until 2022 when we've gotten rid of this incompetent Government and their gay cohorts like Sumner.

I wonder what else Hubert and friends have promised this flamboyant performer - Sumner? The guy has a couple pennies already, I would hate to think he's selling out his Bahamian Populace for that measely Standards and Bureau Board post that Minnis has given him since the election.

What else did they promise you Edison?

EVERYONE GOOOGLE IPSI BAHAMAS or click - http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/community/Sir_Orville_Turnquest_Elected_Chairman_of_High-tech_Multi-play_Communications_Provider_printer.shtml

Did Sumner get promised the third cellular license? Is That why he is in bed both metaphorically and physically with the FNM ? Is that why he is singing for his supper?

I admonish all readers to pay careful attention to his words - this PPP is at no cost to the GOVERNMENT. The Consumer will bear the full brunt of this cost.

I suspect it will be enough to discourage the small man from purchasing the affordable Asian alternative driving him back to the predatory hands of The Symonette Group @ commonwealth Bank and the FNM MCM member Fred Albury (BMDA president) & his evil business partners (Sanpin, The Automall , Executive Motors, Friendly Ford, Nassau Motors, etc)

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concernedcitizen 4 months ago

Really ,, to get ur point across u insult the PM,s wife looks and then call someone gay as an insult .I think we should be allowed to buy and import whatever cars we want if they are in reasonable safe condition ..however calling out some ones looks or sexual preference .How old or better yet emotionally mature /intelligent are you ??

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OMG 4 months ago

Smacks of BUT travels around the world with no meaningful result. I can buy 6 s/h japanese cars for the price of on new import. Quality is perfect and I should know having owned one for over 5 years.

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proudloudandfnm 4 months ago

I have never had any issues with any of my Japanese imports... They need to let this die now. Mrs. Minnis got her trip. Stop trumping this...

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bogart 4 months ago

Why add on costs and we local mechanic already still gon checks it out?? Doesnt the Chamber know how pore people who value every penny dey earns ack ?? Das why by popular usage 9 outta 10 cars driving past thd Chamber office on Shirley is right hand Japanede?? Instead of the Chamber messing with the small ordinary people dey should finish off tackling dere Bank members who plenty people hav complaints but still nothin done.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

We need to adopt Bermuda's car policy ........ One car per household ....... And any private car over the size of a Honda Civic must pay at least $500.00 to register. Too many cars are in Nassau.

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BahamaPundit 4 months ago

Why not just decrease the duty on cars period!!! We reside next to one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, but their cars are out of reach of average Bahamians, due to the exorbitant duty imposed by the Bahamas Government. Let's not even start talking about a Bahamian's ability to lease a luxury car here, which is very prevalent in the US. How about this, you make new and used cars the same price in The Bahamas as they are, a stones throw away, in the US, and we will never mention Japanese vehicles again. Until such time, however, kiss our collective A _ _!!!

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Sickened 4 months ago

Nassau Motors used to lease cars - maybe they still do. I'm not saying anyone but banks could afford the lease - $750 a month for a Honda Civic!

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bogart 4 months ago

I would be happy to use a properly run transit like many major city municipal bus transit and use all the car costs instead for food, medicals, pay bec, development and security like camera surveillance system, more razor wire, save, Sadly the present transit needs improving and is a meance and immediate danger to life.

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BahamaPundit 4 months ago

Yep. It's hard not to be pessimistic of our chances of survival in a global economy, if we can't even get basic transportation right.

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Franklyn 4 months ago

Mr Sumner is disingenuous when he says "

“The Government, private sector and consumer protection agencies are all looking out for the betterment of the country.

“This is to improve the quality of vehicles on the road in the country, and Bahamians driving at optimal standards in compliance with International Standards Organization (ISO) standards that govern the use of vehicles in our country.” - but Mr Sumner knows there is no such "driving at optimal standards" in The Bahamas.

The Belief locally is, there is always a propensity to "do it foreign" which creates the assumption of collusion or corruption. Considering that the Bahamas is 40 years behind international norms in many areas. And the fact that an offer is on the table (for the past 3 years) to have the most modern ANNUAL (Periodical) Technical Inspection of ALL road vehicles – and their attachments, in the Bahamas - and not an inspection on used imports from Japan destined for the Bahamas.

Proper Annual inspection of Motor Vehicles is an International obligation that the Bahamas has neglected over the past 50 years. The bigger question for the government is – who should the public holds liable when motor vehicles are “inspected and deemed roadworthy” by the Controller of the Road Traffic Department on behalf of The Minister of Transport. And that vehicle, due to the non-existence of a proper technical inspection, is driven on the streets of the Bahamas and it can be proven that basic noncompliance with International standard of proper roadworthiness was the cause of a Bahamian to have lost his or her life due to negligence in providing proper annual inspection of vehicles in the Bahamas. (this is also a loophole for the insurance industry who may say "due to improper inspection of a vehicle" that may have caused the death of an individual - "we are unable to pay out on insurance coverage")

One of the big players in exports the Bahamas state that - Every purchased vehicle goes through a complete inspection to meet our Trust Quality Standard (or they offer additional inspection service at a cost of $50.00)

The Business Model

Selling and exporting vehicles to more than 150 countries

Trust has established "B2C" business model which directly sells vehicles to customers overseas. Every purchased vehicle goes through a complete inspection to meet our Trust Quality Standard, then put on a website that customers are able to browse and order at any time. Also, Trust has established a trusted relationship with customers, which enables us to receive full payment in advance before shipment.

Trust Co., Ltd. President Masato Tsujimoto

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

All I will say is "perception does matter", justice must be seen to be done.

If we did not want to give the perception that this move was meant to benefit the New Car Dealers,, it might have been good to take "reputable" Used Japanese Car Dealers as well as mechanics who service those cars on this trip as opposed to the president of the New Car Dealer's Association and the Prime Minister's wife. You could not have devised worse optics if you tried.

I don't understand what is going on since the FNM took power. They told us they were different, but they continue to do the same things. "Fire and Rehire" to appoint their FNM campaign workers to head multi-million dollar organizations. Pad delegations with their spouses and "friends" who will have no detectable skills germaine to the mission, and appoint retiree buddies to top positions. So far Arlington Miller, Leon Bethel, then another retiree is ear marked for post master general. What are we doing???? Can't patriotic FNM's see this is no different and no good for the country? We are on the road for another five years where an elite group are the beneficiaries of the bulk of limited economic activity and breadcrumbs are thrown in the street to pacify the masses. The country will continue its death spiral if this does not stop.

The only difference I have seen so far is that Perry Christie told us there was nothing wrong with giving jobs to PLP's and then he gave jobs to PLP's, Dr Minnis told us it's the People's Time, and now he's giving jobs to FNM's....

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