Base COE categories on buyer profile

While it is true that in developed countries, residents do not drive to work, they do, in fact, own cars for weekend grocery shopping trips or family outings.

Our Government has to recognise that car ownership is no longer a luxury but a necessity, just like how cellphones have evolved to become everyday items. With an ageing population and the fast-emerging need to be more productive in caring for the elderly, this mindset change has to happen now.

The certificate of entitlement (COE) system for private cars can be revamped to encompass two categories, based on the profile of the buyer, and not by engine capacity. Engine capacity and power output should no longer be a factor, as with an ageing population, an electric or elder-friendly multi-purpose vehicle should be encouraged, even though it may not be the most budget-friendly car.

The first COE category should strictly be for Singaporeans.

Perhaps Singaporeans can use their SingPass to make their bids as well as place a bid deposit of $5,000. Each NRIC is allowed to hold only one COE at a time.

Holders of this type of COE should be allowed to transfer it only to fellow Singaporeans, with similar restrictions of one COE per NRIC.

The second COE category can function in a similar manner to the existing system, where free market forces determine the price.

This proposal achieves many objectives: First, private transport is made affordable to the man in the street. Second, there is a benefit to being a citizen. Third, the growth rate of cars is no different from what it is currently. But the hoarding of COEs by multi-car owners will not artificially inflate the price of cars.

Lastly, the quality of cars on the road should improve, with affordable COEs being used to purchase the more expensive electric or elder-friendly vehicles.

Yoong Fung Yan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'Base COE categories on buyer profile'. Print Edition | Subscribe