LAHORE: Rumors about suspension of biometric verification system for transfer (BVST) of vehicles and motorcycles in Punjab have left car dealers, agents and even the common man in a real quandary about “what to do” at Punjab Excise Taxation and Narcotics Control Department’s (ET&NC) offices.
Muhammad Ashfaq Khalid, a car dealer who came to the head office of ET&NC located at Fareed Kot House informed this scribe that there are more than 17 vehicles in his showroom, which could not be sold due to the BVST.
“Actually, prior to the introduction of biometric system by ET&NC, people did not pay much attention to transfer of ownership of vehicles and motorcycles. A common practice in the market was to check the original documents of any vehicle before buying it and if the vehicle was in the name of the seller or someone else, a transfer deed was taken from the seller/owner. This transfer letter/deed was kept open as this was done so that when a car dealer sells a car to someone, he fills this open letter in the name of the buyer so that the vehicle or motorcycle is transferred to the name of the buyer,” he said.
Khalid further informed that now after the BVST, the procedure for transfer of ownership of vehicle or motorcycle had changed.
“Under the biometric system, a vehicle buyer has to submit transfer fee online through ePay app and transfer of a vehicle ownership is possible only after the biometric verification of the original owner of the vehicle i.e., the person in whose name the vehicle is registered. However, we have bought many vehicles in the market following this old practice. Even many people who are not fully aware of the biometric system still buy vehicles under this system. It is now very difficult to contact the owners of the vehicles, which were bought through open letter. Even if the owners of these vehicles are contacted, they make many demands for BVST. We have repeatedly requested the excise officers to restore the old style of vehicle registration for some period so that transfer of such vehicles can be made possible. Even now we were getting the same information from various sources that the biometric system has been postponed due to court orders but nothing like that happened here,” he lamented.
However, when contacted, some officials of ET&NC informed that neither biometric system has been suspended, nor there are any such orders from any authority.
Ashraf Bhatti, an official of Motor Branch of ET&NC informed this scribe that registration of vehicles and motorcycles is being carried out under biometric system.
“Many people are also asking us whether the BVST has been suspended and we are telling them that it is not. I receive many cases of transfer of ownership through transfer letters on a daily basis and I send them back saying that transfer is possible only under a BVST. If any decision had been taken in this regard, we should have received orders for it, but we have not received any orders,” Malik informed.
Similarly, ET&NC’s Region C Establishment Branch official Mohammad Muawiya also clarified that the transfer of vehicle or motorcycle is not possible without a biometric system.
“We keep hearing rumors of the suspension of BVST every day. Actually, there are many vehicles and motorcycles in the market whose ownership transfer is difficult due to this system. But this system is for the betterment of people. It was introduced so that the agent mafia can be tackled and the people can easily process the transfer of vehicles without any hassle,” he maintained.
An inspector of the Excise Motor Branch informed that according to his estimation, there are more than 300,000 vehicles in Lahore alone which are not giving any kind of income to the department due to the BVST.
“We receive cases of cars and motorcycles on a daily basis and believe me, sometimes showroom owners are worried about the transfer of their forty to fifty vehicles because the owners of these vehicles are no longer providing BVST for the showrooms and asking money for it. Now, at the same time, the annual token taxes of such vehicles are not being collected and the money that is to be received by the department in terms of transfer of ownership is also not being received. However, there are definitely rumors that the ownership transfer of some vehicles and motorcycles may be allowed through transfer letters this month, but this will not mean that the biometric system will be suspended. The biggest ugliness of this system is that under it large-scale fraud is being done to simple people. Because under this system the owner and the buyer do the BVST and the car or bike is transferred. But the point to be noted is that under this system the original file of the vehicle or motorcycle neither comes to the excise office nor is it checked by an excise officer. In the market, the price of a car with missing files is reduced by twenty percent and there is a mafia in the market that creates fake files. Under the previous system, the vehicle file was checked by officials of the department and if there was any objection, the transfer process was stopped but that’s not the case anymore,” he informed.