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Friday, August 13, 2010

LTA continues to avoid the issue in the numbers game

The Land Authority of Singapore has finally responded to my email concerning my unhappiness over having to pay $1,300 to retain my previous car number for a one-year old car that I bought last month instead of only $100 if I had used it on a new car.

As expected, it sent me another one of those standard replies that some government agencies are fond of doing. There was absolutely no attempt at addressing the issue that I had raised.

It reconfirms my belief that when they think you are a nobody and a nuisance, this is the kind of treatment that you get when you try to argue your point.

In my second email to LTA, I had requested that it be shown to its CEO as I believe that I have a good case and that I should help to point out an obvious discrepany that is staring me in the face. I would not have stumbled upon it if I had kept to my old car or bought a new one.

I am not sure whether the CEO was shown my email. If he did and still condoned the standard reply that was sent to me, then I think he is not doing his job.

I had sent the LTA two reminders before it condescended to give its standard reply. After posting this, I will make another attempt to get the CEO to read my blog and hope against hope that he will give me his honest opinion on what I have raised.

To be fair, I have also to point out that the CEO has been appointed to the LTA job only recently so I assume he would have nothing to do with the policy on registration number retention.

I reproduce below my posting on the issue and the two LTA replies:

Saturday, July 17, 2010
Numbers game with LTA: My hope is to make it see the light

The Land Authority of Singapore (LTA) has replied to my query on the rationale for charging me $1,300 for the retention of my almost five-year-old Camry car number so that I could use it on another used but newer car which I bought.

Its reply has not pacified me. Instead it has infuriated me even further.

I had paid $1,000 for that special number in Year 2000 when I bought a new car and had it transferred to another new car five years later, paying only $100. This time, because I had bought a used car, it charged me $1,200 more.

I asked LTA the reason for the huge discrepancy in fees for something that is really simple and routine.

LTA's reply yesterday (July 16) said:

"WE WISH to inform you that the fee to retain the registration number of an existing vehicle, which will be used on a new vehicle to be registered immediately under the same owner's name, is $100.

"However, the fee to retain a registration number, which will be used to replace the number of an existing vehicle that is registered under the same owner's name is $1,300.

"A higher fee is imposed for the latter as it involves replacing a registration number that has already been assigned to the vehicle. You may wish to note that the fee of $1,300 is also comparable to the fee payable to replace an existing number with a number of one's choice (i.e. to bid for a registration number), where the minimum bid amount is $1,000 and the replacement fee is $300 (before GST).

"We hope the above clarifies...

Yours sincerely
LYE WING WAI
EXECUTIVE SERVICE OFFICER"

MY REPLY TO LTA...

"Dear Mr Lye,

"Thank you for responding. However, your explanation does not clarify anything --- it only adds to infuriate me further. I have the following reasons to be upset:

"1) LTA's charge of $1,300 to retain a number plate for a USED car against only $100 for a NEW car is, to my mind, mere exploitation. You said the higher fee is imposed for the former as "it involves replacing a registration number that has already been assigned to the vehicle."

"My counter to that is, you do not have to assign any number to me in the first place because I had already given notice that I was going to retain my old number which I had already paid $1,000 for it almost 10 years. Your reason, sad to say, was a poor excuse.

"2) Even if I accept that I have to pay for your administrative work to replace a registration number that has already been assigned, I would like to understand how you could blatantly charge $1,200 more for a simple task like that.

"When I was at your office this morning (July 15) to settle the transfer, I asked the pleasant lady serving me why there was such a big discrepancy in the fees. She looked at me and smiled knowingly but did not utter a word. For me, that itself was an answer.

"3) Your last statement, "You may wish to note that the fee of $1,300 is also comparable to the fee payable to replace an existing number with a number of one's choice (i.e. to bid for a registration number), where the minimum bid amount is $1,000 and the replacement fee is $300 (before GST)", conveniently forgot that I had already paid for the number that I would like to keep. Why does LTA need to continue charging a ridiculous amount when it knows it is so unjust, inconsistent and illogical?

"Which must lead me to speculate as to why LTA is adopting such a policy even though it knows that it is patently unfair.

"One, which I mentioned in my blog, http://boo-n-bouquet.blogspot.com, is that it wants, in a not-so-subtle way, to weed out those whom it thinks would not be able to afford to own a car in Singapore? I would hate to think that it needs to do this to generate more revenue.

"In a situation like this, what riles me as a Singapore citizen, is that I feel totally helpless when I am confronted with something that I know is totally unfair but cannot do anything to change it. I have very little hope that my reply will be read and considered.

"My only request to you is that you copy this to your Chief Executive. I would like to believe that I have tried my best to right a wrong and, hopefully, some good would come out of it."

After two reminders, LTA sent me this reply on August 12...

"We refer to your emails of 17 July 2010 and 28 July 2010. The fee to retain a vehicle number on an existing vehicle is $1,300, which is pegged to the bid-and-replace system (the minimum bid is $1,000 and the replacement fee is $300).

"This fee equalises the cost of changing a registration number on an existing vehicle. In this instance, we note that you have applied to replace the existing vehicle number, SJX8494K, with a retained number SCE8012B, and a fee of $1,300 was payable for the retention and replacement of the vehicle number. We hope the above clarifies.

Yours sincerely
TAN SIEW BEE
SENIOR EXECUTIVE, QUOTA & REGISTRATION"

This is my response to LTA's second email: No, it does not clarify. You can only clarify if you address the issue that I have raised. As a matter of record, I have already paid the $1,300 for the number retention way before you wrote your reply. "

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