News | Sunday, 28 February 2010

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UVIA refutes discrimination claims

The Used Vehicle Importers Association (UVIA) has contested the claims of four independent car dealers, who last week accused the transport authority of discriminating against them for not being affiliated with the business association.
The aggrieved businesses – Mosta Auto Dealer, Brincat Motors, Buges Auto Dealer and Galea Auto Dealer – accused Transport Malta (TM) of instructing VCA, a UK government-owned company that certifies the emissions of used cars from Japan, not to issue them with crucial information that determines how much tax is owed on vehicles they import.
Lawyer Manwel Mallia, a spokesperson for UVIA, has told MaltaToday that it was his association that requested VCA not to reveal this information, and not the transport authority. He claimed that the issue of such directives to VCA are within his legal right, as it is the UVIA that commissions the foreign company and foots all certification bills.
However, the four importers claim that an email by VCA director Mike Mulvaney to a Japanese supplier showed the instruction had come from the transport authority.
“Contrary to what Mulvaney wrote, his boss Mike Procter in 2009 wrote to all ministries to explain that “since UVIA conducted the tests, they requested that the information is not shared outside the ADT offices’,” Mallia said.
“Mulvaney made a mistake and these individuals (the four importers) thought they could circumvent the system,” Mallia said.
UVIA is made up of 30 car importers, with the function of pooling in funds required for Japan imports to be certified according to EU standards. Membership costs €11,647 and is renewed annually for €1,165.
Mallia justifies the cost of the membership fee by saying that since the inception of UVIA in 2002 the association has paid for innumerable tests, certifications and consultancy. He refused to specify the cost of the process to get Japanese cars certified, but he “guaranteed that the figures are hefty and high – which is why these people are trying to circumvent the system at our expense.”
According to both Mallia and TM, the complainants have no other option but to repeat the same tests carried out by UVIA for the same car models, and foot the bill themselves to acquire the same test results and certification.
But the independent importers argue they should not pay for tests whose results have already been established as this would only lead to duplication of costs for information that, according to them, is already in the public domain.
Mallia contests this claim: “I wouldn’t expect a client to argue he should not pay for legal documents that were drafted for other clients.”

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