By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Auto repairers yesterday urged the Government to intensify regulation of the car rental business, amid calls for the removal of alleged "foreign elements" in its ownership.
Dwaine Scavella, president of the Bahamas Auto Repair Association, told Tribune Business: "Something has to be done. You have foreigners renting cars, and you have also private citizens renting cars. This thing needs to be regulated. This is becoming an issue of concern for our members. Guys are hurting.
"Competition is good for consumers, but in a market like ours it's very difficult to survive the way things are going. There is a major concern among the members of the car rental sector of our association. These businesses experienced great loss in revenue since the introduction of VAT, along with competing with a foreign network not just in the auto sales sector of the industry but also that of the car rental sector of the industry."
Mr Scavella added: "While we would like to commend the Government on their efforts to satisfy a certain sector of the industry, we would like them to go even further with protecting this industry for born and unborn Bahamians by first removing the foreign elements and, secondly; sitting with those Bahamians who have invested in this industry for a living - not just to hear, but to listen and address the concerns."
He said that among the concerns raised by Association members is the number of rental plates seemingly "up for grabs". "Before issuing and saturating the market, which is already overcrowded, rental plates should only be given to Bahamian businesses that solely rely on this service for their business," Mr Scavella added.
"Legitimate rental businesses should not have to compare their prices with those who only see this as a second job, and therefore bringing down costs that will affect their overhead expenses to operate and maintain their businesses. While competition may be good for consumers there must be a concern for those who are just throwing around prices that are shutting the doors for others."