Split m-cycle COE category into two

When we discover an economic injustice in our system against the poor, it is the duty of our ministers to rectify it immediately.

Such is the case with the skyrocketing cost for motorcycle certificates of entitlement (COEs) and its unintended economic punishment of poor people ("Record m-cycle COE prices penalise S'porean riders" by Mr Charlie Tan; Jan 14, and "Experts concerned as motorbike COEs rise to record high"; Jan 9).

For many low-wage earners in Singapore, the motorcycle is an essential vehicle for their livelihoods.

These people serve vital roles in our economy as messengers, food deliverymen and package deliverymen.

So, it is absolutely crucial for motorcycle prices to be affordable and within their means.

Since 2010, the price of motorcycle COEs has gone from $900 to more than $6,800.

This is an increase of more than 650 per cent over five years.

This is a ridiculous and unacceptable cost for low-wage motorcycle owners to bear.

The COE will price them out of job opportunities.

Unfortunately, the quota for motorcycles is diminishing because of an unenlightened mechanism in the system.

For every scrapped motorcycle, its COE goes into the pool of Open category COEs, which car buyers readily snap up.

This causes a reduction in the motorcycle quota and increases in prices every year.

As more motorcycle owners scrap their vehicles, because they can't afford the COEs, there are progressively fewer COEs allocated to motorcycles.

It's a vicious circle, which ratchets up prices continually at the expense of the poor.

Admittedly, there is a minor segment which buys powerful motorcycles for leisure and may not require the benefit of cost protection.

The solution is simple: Divide the motorcycle category into "under 400cc" and "above 400cc", for instance.

The hyper-inflation for motorcycle COEs is not a new trend. Its effects were predicted years ago. Yet, action to reverse the problem has been either ineffective or non-existent.

MPs and policymakers must not delay remedial action any further.

The rice bowl of low-wage workers is at stake.

Young Chuan Hwa

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Split m-cycle COE category into two'. Print Edition | Subscribe