It is a known fact: For last 2 decades, the LTA has made it mandatory for Singaporeans hoping to own a car, to first pay for a piece of paper containing formal documentation of entitlement before finally moving on to purchase the actual automobile. And surprise surprise, our fine city is the only one in the world that issues such certificates. The initial plan was to reduce the number of cars on the roads and thus regulate congested roads.
The objective was in all honesty, good, but as with many other plans, execution failed to reach the goal. This may be attributed to the fact that the system failed to acknowledge the undeniable and widening gap between the high flyers and the poor in Singapore. The rich got even richer and decided to splurge on cars. Bid away my friends and what you get is a certificate worth $85 000 for cars above 1600 cc. Incredible isn’t it? The paper is worth as much as an average automobile. Not only did this system add to inflation, cars are now perceived by the average Singaporeans as a form of luxury where the middle to lower income groups are handicapped and unable to own a car. Boom and all of a sudden, cars are now concentrated in the hands of the rich.
The insane prices have been going on for the last few years and LTA just recently announced that it is looking to complete a review by the end of May 2012. It hopes to re-examine the COE system in ensuring what it calls “social equity”, equity between the different income brackets in Singapore. It is an idealistic statement and objective on LTA’s part and one that should not create high hopes from the review.