| Danial Norjidi |
THE Ministry of Communications is looking to commercialise the vehicle inspection centre services in the country, and will be issuing a public consultation letter by the end of this month.
This was said yesterday by Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications during a press briefing yesterday.
“At the policy level, we have now come to a consideration to outsource this service now,” he said.
“Currently the vehicle inspection service is being provided by the Land Transport Department (JPD). Now we are, at the policy level with the Ministry of Communications and the resources of JPD, tabling to look at outsourcing the model so that it becomes, hopefully, more efficient and lessens the burden of the government in terms of the cost, maintenance and so on.
“By January we are going to issue a public consultation letter on this, which will be floated to the public on the idea of vehicle inspection centres being commercialised,” he said.
“One of the challenging issues will be the pricing. This is why we are working on it, and one of the best ways to find out is to do a very iterative public consultation.
“We would like to hear the public’s view on this, on various aspects like whether certain rates should be imposed at inspection centres for cars that are seven years old, for example,” he said.
“We will even ask the public for their thoughts on what would be a good number of years for cars to go on before being inspected,” he shared, noting that in the UK cars are inspected after three years, while in Europe it is done after four years.
“It has to be done in such a way that we embrace the public view, hence the idea of public consultation,” he said, adding that the Director of Land Transport, Dr Hj Supry bin Hj Ladi will lead this initiative. “On top of the public consultation paper, we will also be conducting dialogues with the public.”
When asked for further comment on this by the Bulletin, he said that the ministry has been looking at other models from other countries.
“One country has a vehicle inspection centre with a basic cost at the entry level, but they also have premium services, where there are packages that will cost extra but cover a number of bundled services at their land transport department.”
Another such service is that of insurance.
“This is an avenue that we can certainly look into. For example if you have a vehicle inspection centre, you pay a certain amount, but if you can get a sum deduction on insurance for that car, then why not? That’s why we hope to work very closely with insurance agencies.
“We have always had a national road safety council, and we have the Brunei Automobile Traders Association (BATA) in the group as well as the insurance association and Shell,” he continued. “Through that, we hope to come up with certain incentives and adjustments of pricing, but as of now, it’s still in an early stage.”
Moving on, he highlighted, “When we do something new in terms of policy, we have to get the feedback of the public. Although it takes quite a while, internally we have been doing a lot of work on the concept and framework, and now hopefully, we feel it is ready and that’s why I have said that by January 30 we will issue a public consultation letter. Anyone is welcome to comment and we are going to conduct public dialogues.”
On whether the commercialised vehicle inspection centres will be semi-government or fully privatised, he said, “The whole idea is, first of all, to commercialise it. The word ‘commercialise’ here can mean so many things. It can mean private industry holding, it can mean that it is still under JPD but outsourced, and it can also mean a semi-government entity.
“These are some of the different models that we are looking at and the ministry will do some consideration on that,” he added. “That is certainly part of the thinking, but our general policy is to commercialise and to lessen he burden on the government. How to do that, I cannot yet answer.”
Speaking on the potential economic spin-off this commercialisation could bring, the permanent secretary said, “In Singapore, when they commercialised their vehicle inspection centres, it immediately created jobs. That means jobs outside of the Land Transport Authority in Singapore.
“Now what we can do, as I said earlier on, with the limited technical resources that we have, the other way is to collaborate and work smartly. We cannot rely on our internal resources for so long.
“Once we actually commercialise this, with the spinoffs, ideally it will be a private company to run it. Ideally, those people who are inspecting now, we can deploy to do more regulatory work.”
Commercialising vehicle inspection services will lessen the burden on the government, enhance efficiency and also create a new market for competition, he said.
“Vehicle Inspection Centres are considered worldwide as commercial services. The only thing now is for us to come up with the right formula.”