Car importers appeased with special committee

Following nation-wide outrage concerning numerous errors in driving license tests, the Ministry of Transport now finds itself facing another complaint, this time from the country's vehicle importers. Last week protesters blockaded the Ministry building to voice their opposition to the new law which considerably limits the import of used cars.

Car importers have demanded an amendment and have declared that they will block several Czech border crossings if their demands are not met. In response , the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman and Transport Minister, Jaromir Schling held a meeting on Monday with car importers to try to come to some kind of compromise. Dita Asiedu reports:

The new law which came into effect on July 1st of this year, prohibits the import of all cars older than five years unless they hold a European certificate of approval. Cars from the European Union will also have to have been officially tested and labeled to be in good condition before they can be imported into the Czech Republic. The Ministry of Transport, notes that the new rules and regulations are there to improve the environment but Jan Slawisch who represents one association of Czech importers claims that the law fails to consider cars from outside Europe:

"The law discriminates against all countries that are not in the European Union. This means that vehicles from the United States and Japan, for example, are not even considered... basically, it is virtually impossible to register a vehicle older than five years that's from the U.S.A. or Japan."

According to Mr. Slawisch, the import of cars older than five years from countries outside of Europe amounts to some 100 000 vehicles a year - which is about 5% of total yearly imports. But, he adds, that there are so many loopholes in the law that it is not just this 5% that has been put on hold.

"The law is always accompanied by some sort of a notice which is more of an explanation of the rules and regulations. This notice, which has to be in line with the law, did not exist until Monday... which is why the import of vehicles within the last two months or so has been completely non-existent. During Monday's meeting, it was decided that a committee would be formed on Tuesday which would start dealing with the problem on Thursday."

The new Committee is to be made up of representatives of the Ministry of Transport as well as car import associations, with the latter planning to be accompanied by a lawyer to make sure that they are properly advised during the proceedings:

"The law cannot be changed, of course, but we want it to be intervened so that the import of vehicles is no longer limited. We have to work on an amendment because we find the current law unjust. Since it would take longer than weeks or months, we have to do it step by step, starting with the MP providing the proposal to the amendment."