We Mix Business with Pleasure.

Dear Sir:

Having been 11 months away from Grenada, I arrived back the day before the country’s general election to find my vehicle (which was garaged for that period of time) un-insured and with an invalid road tax licence disc; both of which expired at the end of June 2012.

The very next day I went to the insurance office and renewed the insurance policy for 12 months, then went off to the road tax (revenue) office to purchase a new road tax licence disc, only to be told at the cash desk that I also needed to have a vehicle inspection certificate. Having being told where I needed to go to have the vehicle inspected and that it was alright to drive the vehicle there, I went the very next day to have the vehicle inspected.

On arrival I was told to reverse the vehicle onto what I prefer to describe as a bay. The chap carrying out the inspection did not say much and was very abrupt; he went like this: turn your lights on; turn your beam on; turn it off; turn your indicator on – left; turn it on – right; sound your horn; switch your wiper on. He went to the rear: turn your lights on; turn it off; drive forward and press your brakes; put your vehicle in reverse. He came back to the front of the vehicle: switch your engine on; open the bonnet. He then wrote the vehicle reference down on a small slip of paper and said take this to the office. Which I did – got the certificate and took it together with the vehicle insurance certificate to the tax office on the Carenage.

The usual queuing up took place and I paid for a 12 months road tax licence disc; queued up a second time got the road tax disc and went home only to find out when I got there that the licence tax disc was dated 2012 and expires in June of 2013 (it is only valid for four months). Yes, that is correct. I paid for a valid 12 months road tax licence disc on the 20 February 2013 in Grenada and was sold a disc that is pre-dated eight months. How ridiculous!

Naturally, I went back to the office the very next day waited my turn and said to the chap (a policeman) there must be some mistake; I have been sold the wrong dated tax disc.

The youngish looking officer initially tried to be polite but could not help displaying his arrogance and lack of discipline when I exercised my rights and challenged what I saw as a corrupt and fraudulent system when he told me because of the vehicle registration number the road tax given to me was correct. The vehicle was first registered in the month of June (never mind the year) and because it is not June as yet I have to be given a road tax licence for June 2012.

I cannot understand what the hell the vehicle registration number has to do with when a new vehicle road tax license is purchased; also it would seem that this corrupt system that is currently in place does not allows one to even purchase a six-month tax disc.

I asked the man: “Are you telling me that I purchased a road tax disc yesterday paid the full 12 months fee and it becomes invalid in 4 months? Are you telling me that in four months time I have to have my vehicle inspected all over again pay for inspection and yet another road tax licence?” When he said yes; I made it clear that it was not the end of the matter and I intended to take it higher. Off he went and started dribbling on about you can talk to my boss; the sergeant, the commissioner of police, etc.

Frankly, I cannot see what the hell any of those people (those who administer the system) can do about a policy that is in my view fraudulent and needs radical change by politicians and perhaps an act of parliament. The vehicle road tax licence system currently operating in Grenada is in desperate need of change; it is old corrupt and out-dated. A new and fairer system needs to be brought into place; one that makes sense and fits into the era we live in.

When I went to take out the vehicle insurance policy I was given one for 12 months starting from the 19 February (the day I renewed it). One expects no less from the vehicle licensing authority. Vehicle insurance and licence is for allowing one to legally keep or drive that said vehicle on the highways; one doesn’t need either document to own a vehicle or to have it kept on private property.

In Britain, if one takes their vehicle off the road for whatever reason, or if the vehicle is sold, one can apply for a refund based on the amount of months left before the licence expires. One can apply for a 6-month road tax licence or a 12-month road tax licence disc which becomes valid from date of purchase. This system has nothing whatsoever to do with when the vehicle was first registered or the date it was last licensed unless the application for renewal coincides with the invalid date. As a matter of fact, one is sent a reminder around the beginning of the month that the licence expires and one can easily re-apply online or by phone and the new vehicle licence tax disc comes to you in the post within a week.

Grenada needs a similar and simple system that encourages people to purchase a valid road tax licence if they have or want to keep a vehicle on the public highways; also a system that allows people to pay for usage of the highways and not penalise them for ownership of a vehicle regardless. The system should also give people the choice of purchasing a licence for 6 months or 12 months. Had the fraudulent system allowed for a 6-month road tax licence, in my case I would have at least had the opportunity to purchase a tax disc that is more realistic and fair to my current need.

Finally, if one purchases something, then in any right thinking society that operates a purchase law that item is theirs to keep should they wish to do so. So why does the licensing authority of Grenada keep the vehicle inspection certificate? Why does it become the property of the licensing authority and not the purchaser, who is charged EC$30 for the pleasure of having their vehicle inspected? This again is all wrong also. The test certificate should be valid for 12 months, which should allow the holder to obtain a valid road tax licence for that said vehicle at any time during the 12-month period, providing the vehicle is insured.

The current system that is operated is prejudicial against the motorist as it penalises individuals twofold – you have to purchase a 12-month road tax licence even if it is only valid for 1 month (based on the vehicle’s first registration) but before you do, you have to have your vehicle inspected; then at the end of that month when your licence runs out you have to do it all over again. What this means is that within the space of four or five weeks under the system currently operating in Grenada, a motorist could have to have a vehicle inspected and paid for twice at a cost of EC$60 and also apply and pay for two separate vehicle road tax licences costing EC$550. Absolutely ludicrous!

Winston Strachan
Writing from St George’s

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