Car-theft surcharge to remain
By CLIFFORD LO
THE car-theft surcharge on insurance premiums is unlikely to be waived this year, despite a substantial drop in the number of luxury vehicles stolen in the second quarter of this year.
The chairman of the Hongkong Accident Insurance Association, Peter Dunn, said yesterday he would not recommend any change to the surcharge at the moment.
''The total value of car theft for our members in the first two quarters of this year amounted to $211 million, compared with $227 million for the same period in 1992,'' he explained.
''It is only a reduction of seven per cent in value. It is not a big change and not sufficient for us to review the car-theft surcharge.'' The latest police statistics showed that there was a substantial drop in luxury cars stolen from 461 in the first three months this year to 139 between April and June.
Mr Dunn said the figures confirmed the trend earlier this year but they would consider reviewing the surcharge only if a longer term trend was established.
''It is the right direction but still a long way to go,'' he said. ''We ought to see a definite progress towards that trend.'' Consumer Council deputy chief executive Li Kai-ming said they would lobby the insurance industry to scrap the surcharge if the number of stolen cars continued to drop.
The council will meet the association later this year before they recommend rates for 1994.
The surcharge, levied on top of premiums, was introduced by the association in 1991 in response to an increase in car theft.
Meanwhile, eight luxury cars were returned to Hongkong from Guangdong yesterday - three Mercedes-Benz, two Toyota Crowns, two Lexus and one BMW.
All were driven across the Lok Ma Chau border in the second handover this year. Despite the odd scratch, the cars appeared to be in good condition.
This was the ninth batch of stolen vehicles returned. The Guangdong Public Security Bureau has returned a total of 56 luxury cars.
''The Hongkong car-theft situation has improved tremendously,'' the Deputy Director of Crime, Assistant Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui said.
''The situation right now is that we are losing one or two luxury cars a day, compared with the peak of the problem late last year when eight to 10 were stolen a day.'' He said the drop was attributed to vigorous action by the police and their counterparts in Guangdong.
The police have arrested more than 90 people connected with car smuggling and seized 18 tai feis, high-powered speedboats, this year. About a third of the luxury cars stolen this year have been recovered.