Friday, May 4, 2012

Govt studying measures to cool COE market

SINGAPORE: More Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) may be made available in the coming months.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying measures that may contribute to higher COE supply for the next six-month period from this August.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew revealed this on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony of Tuas West Extension on Friday.

Car buyers have been feeling the heat in recent months, as prices have soared due to supply tightening.

The latest bidding round alone saw COE prices reaching record levels.

Prices for big cars went past the S$90,000 mark, while those for smaller cars breached the S$60,000 mark.

But there may soon be some relief.

Minister Lui said he has asked the LTA to study two measures.

One is to possibly delay cutting the vehicle growth rate to 0.5 per cent from the current 1.5 per cent by August this year.

"I think if we proceed with the plan as we envisaged earlier, it would be quite a significant squeeze on the vehicle quota numbers. While 0.5 per cent is indeed the target we want to achieve, we will study very carefully whether we can exercise flexibility in this area," said Mr Lui.

Another possibility is to defer the claw-back of COEs which has been underway since April 2010.

The claw-back is to counter an oversupply of COEs due to over-projections in vehicle deregistrations between 2008 and 2009.

Industry players said if the measures are implemented, higher quota numbers will cool the COE market. But they do not expect the reduction in COE prices to be very significant.

Michael Wong, vice president of Motor Traders Association, said: "If these deferred adjustments had been much earlier, then of course the numbers would be quite significant.

"We are at the last phase of the claw-back. The total number is still good-sized, but on its own will not significantly impact the total volume of COEs available."

Still, some potential car buyers hope the measures will be implemented.

"The move is good, (it will) enable more people to buy cars," said a member of the public.

Others felt boosting the COE supply would not be sustainable.

"Singapore is too small a country to have many vehicles. Improve our public transport (and) make sure that it is good quality," said another.

LTA is expected to complete its study on the possible measures by the end of the month.

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