Pakistan's auto industry draws fire

By ASIA NEWS NETWORK | 15 January 2020

Pakistani drivers caught in a traffic jam in Islamabad. Car makers in the country have been accused of failing to produce cars to the required safety standards. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's car industry came under fire in the Senate, which claims car makers  were assembling vehicles that were unsafe and raising prices indiscriminately.

Winding up discussion on the decline in car sales in the country, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati told the house that new rules were being drafted to punish the manufacturers of unsafe vehicles.

He said the companies would be held responsible for any fatal accidents arising from air bags that fail to open and not carrying out other standard safety safeguards. "They will have to pay multi-million rupees in fine.”

The minister said that under the new auto policy unveiled by the government, 18 new car making plants had been set up, five of which were onstream now. He said Chinese and Korean companies were among the players.

Swati noted that the demand-supply factor determined market prices and the government could not fix the rates. He, however, said the prices would drop as production exceeded demand.

Earlier, Senator Atiq Ahmad Shaikh alleged a cartel was controlling Pakistan's car industry and that poor quality vehicles were being assembled.

He said the companies involved kept on increasing car prices and failed to meet their commitments under which downstream factories were to be set up. The sector could not attract new investments because of the cartel, he added.

Senator Nauman Wazir said it was strange that while Pakistan produced the most inexpensive tractors, so-called "locally manufactured" cars were the most expensive.

He said most of the car parts were imported, adding that a number of incidents had been reported in which air bags did not open in case of accidents.

He said no crash tests were conducted and unsafe cars were threatening the lives of Pakistanis. — Dawn