Lift three-quarter tank rule to inject competition

The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a significant milestone, especially for a small country like Singapore ("TPP agreement signed, two years to ratification"; last Friday).

It opens up plenty of opportunities for Singapore companies.

Domestically, though, Singaporeans should also seek to benefit from the TPP.

One example is the Customs (Fuel Tank - Minimum Amount) Order, which disallows Singapore motorists from leaving the country in a vehicle with less than a three-quarter tank of motor fuel.

This prevents freedom of trade, gives motorists no options and allows petrol companies operating here to monopolise the market.

This can be seen in the lack of response from petrol companies here to the recent huge drop in crude oil prices.

Much has changed since the rule was introduced in 1991.

Tolls have been introduced at the Causeway, averaging about $12 for a round trip. Malaysia is also introducing a RM20 (S$6.80) Vehicle Entry Permit fee this year.

Malaysia has also imposed restrictions that allow foreign motorists to purchase only premium non-subsidised petrol.

Considering all this, the cost of travelling to Malaysia to get petrol outweighs the savings a car owner may get.

Therefore, the authorities should look into lifting the three-quarter tank rule as a measure to introduce competition here.

Leong Kaiyan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline 'Lift three-quarter tank rule to inject competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe