Sat, 11 Nov 2000

Awaiting recommendation to buy buses from China

JAKARTA (JP): Following the signing of the agreement for the marketing of 2,000 buses from Texmaco on the previous day, the city administration on Friday said that it would continue efforts to obtain a government recommendation which would lower the import tax for the 3,000 buses to be shipped from China as part of its plan to replace the city's aging buses.

City Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ) Chief Buyung Atang said that his office has been urgently waiting for the recommendation from Minister of Transportation and Telecommunication Agum Gumelar over the import tax issue which has become the main obstacle for the city to realize its plan to import the Chinese made buses.

"The highly anticipated letter of recommendation from the minister would help support the governor's approval for the bus imports which, in turn, could help lower the tax for the completely built up buses from China," Buyung said.

On Thursday, the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) for Jakarta Chapter signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PT Texmaco Perkasa Engineering to help market its 2,000 Perkasa buses to city bus operators here.

The city currently needs around 5,000 buses to replace the aging buses. Jakarta currently has 2,028 buses, including minibuses, which have been serving passengers for more than 20 years, and 1,556 others that have been servicing the capital's residents for at least 15 years.

Buyung said after the signing on Thursday that the remaining 3,000 buses needed to replace the old city buses would likely be shipped from China.

"The Ministry of Trade and Industry has agreed to lower the import tax from 40 percent to five or 10 percent. But they said that the buses should be completely knocked down vehicles to help boost local auto assemblers," Buyung said.

The city administration initially planned to replace all of the aging buses by shipping them from China. The plan was changed after the ministry refused to lower the import taxes for the buses.

On Friday, Buyung said that he hoped minister Agum would support the city's plan since it's probably impossible for the city to meet the prerequisite set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

"The buses from China would be all CBU ones, meaning that the ministry would stick to its policy of charging for the vehicles at the 40-percent rate," he said.

According to Buyung, he doubted that local auto assemblers here were qualified enough to handle the Chinese buses due to their limited experience and capacity.

"From what I have studied, two big assembler companies in Magelang, Central Java, namely PT Tugas Anda and PT Delima Jaya, could only assemble 300 vehicles per month, while the city needs 3,000 buses within a very short time," he said, adding that the first fleet of 1,000 buses is due to arrive next month.

"We understand that we have to use domestic products. But sometimes we have to understand the limitation and the urgency," he added. (dja)