The Straits Times
Published on Feb 25, 2013

Reserve some cars without need for COEs for citizens


IT IS an aspiration of the average Singaporean to own a car, but because of record high certificate of entitlement (COE) prices, many middle-income Singaporeans find themselves priced out of the car market.

To make cars affordable again, I propose that the car market be divided into two sectors: a public sector controlled by the Government, and the other private and deregulated.

For the public market, set up a government portal where citizens can apply for cars, including their preferred brand, make and dealer. To prevent a surge in demand, the creation of a black market or speculation, introduce rules to limit the number of applications, for example, one application per household per year, and that cars be retained by the household for a minimum period.

At the end of every year, the Government can conduct an internal ballot with a fixed number of slots and purchase the cars on the applicants' behalf, and sell them to successful applicants the following year, without COEs. An internal record can be kept for public market buyers to account for the lack of a COE. Unsuccessful applicants can try again, their chances increasing mathematically by the number of trials.

For the private markets, buyers can be allowed to buy cars directly, and the COE should be retained. The COE supply for the private market should be decreased to allow for the allocation of cars from the public market, and the price raised appropriately, to account for the loss in government revenue.

Such a system will allow buyers who are rich enough to purchase cars as they desire, while ensuring that cars remain affordable for the middle class. The number of cars on the road can be limited, and the Government need not endure a loss in revenue, ensuring that all parties benefit from such a scheme.

Abel Tan