Thursday, March 25, 2010

On COE prices and quotas

Today’s news reported that COE prices had gone up by as much as S$14,411 in the latest bidding exercise, with the most expensive COE (the open category COE) costing S$42,001.

The huge increases were because the government was going to limit the supply of COEs from April 2010 onwards by pegging it to actual vehicle deregistrations.

The present cost of a COE makes car ownership prohibitively expensive and out of reach from the common population of Singapore.

Is there a way to alleviate this cost of car ownership? Well, how about having a COE quota for foreigners? Say, a 25% quota, which means that 25% of the COEs released each month will go to foreigners, while 75% of the COEs will go to Singapore citizens.

Having such separate categories of COEs for foreigners and citizens will likely reduce the COE prices for citizens (because there will be more available COEs for them), and in effect make foreigners subsidise some of the high costs of car ownership (as the foreigners will probably pay a higher rate of COE given a limited quota). More importantly, it would also benefit citizens (who have long term interests vested here compared to foreigners who are here for the short term) by giving them priority in owning cars and driving on the roads of their own country.

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