Friday, March 08, 2013

Disabled Drivers and Caregivers: Safe from New Car Loan Rules

Despite the rightful rage at the government for introducing the new car MAS loan rules that car buyers must have a cash down payment of 50% or 60% depending on the OMV of the car, and that the max loan tenure is 5 years instead of the current 10 years, there was some reasoned restraint in this new car tax.

Some Thoughtfulness and Exemption

Finance MinisterTharman Shanmugaratnam assured that the new loan rules are a temporary measure and would be reviewed in time to affect demand, and also that disabled drivers and their caregivers would be exempted from this onerous MAS policy to ostensibly restrict the number of cars on the road. The COE policy has obviously failed to deter people from buying cars.

The exemption that disabled drivers and their caregivers should not be penalised is a welcomed caveat to the policy. However, it is the details that matter. Presumably the conditions for the special lifting of the loan rules would be based on whether the car buyer has a Class 1 or Class 2 parking label according to the Centre for Enabled Living.  Class 1 is for people who are medically certified as having physical disabilities to park at the disabled drivers lot. Class 2 is for caregivers and those who drive someone who is relatively immobile, and technically it allows for people to park the car at the disabled lot for up to one hour only.

However, there are frequent instances when the Class 2 label is abused e.g. parking beyond the one hour, did not ferry any disabled passenger but yet parked in the disabled lot. Similarly, people would try to work around this MAS loan rules by claiming to be caregivers and getting loan and tax breaks. This is possible as a Class 2 label can be spread up to 3 cars per label i.e. 3 cars exempted from the new loan rules?

So-Called Altruism Questioned

This begs the question. If the government was really generous about disabled drivers and their caregiver-drivers based on allowing them to be spared the new MAS rules, should these groups of people have been exempted from the COE policy at the onset?

Ignoring the technicalities of who is a disabled driver and who is a caregiver-driver and how many cars can be exempted per disabled person, it is obvious these people have a bigger right to own cars more than anyone else. Since the numbers are small, these people need their cars, and as a show of a caring government, all this while, why do disabled drivers surely, and their caregiver-drivers, need to bid and pay for an increasingly exorbitant COE?

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