Monday, August 01, 2005

That's, 'pre-owned vehicle'

Another dictatorship with car lots:

Thanks to a new clampdown on unlicensed vehicle imports by Burma's military junta, the price of even a second-hand jalopy is beyond the reach of all but the richest people.

A 1981 Ford Cortina can sell for £2,500 - several times what it was worth when new. A 20-year-old Nissan with half its dashboard missing will go for £5,000, while a humble 1985 Toyota Corolla will fetch up to £10,000.

Until recently, motorists imported cars illegally from Thailand to avoid the sky-high customs duties and the cost of obtaining an import permit. Now, however, unlicensed vehicles are being confiscated, which has sent the value of officially-registered cars rocketing.

.... the sudden hike in car prices is a direct result of the dictatorship's own bizarre economic management, which in the past has also included hiring astrologers as advisers and issuing currency in multiples of nine.

Most business legislation also tends to line the pockets of the ruling elite. One beneficiary of the car import restrictions is said to be a son-in-law of Than Shwe, the junta's leader, who reportedly controls one of the biggest second-hand car firms.

At the same time the regime is also rumoured to be rewarding cronies and paying off opponents with import permits, worth up to £50,000 on the open market.

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