Budget 2013: COE Prices

Bruce Young
11 Mar 2013

Over the past week, Parliament has been debating the regulatory changes made to the car ownership regime in Singapore. There have already been tweaks made to the regulations, with the physically disabled and their caregivers being exempted from some of the restrictions for the purchase of one vehicle. With the regulations instituted mainly to cool car demand and rising COE prices, they are unlikely to be relaxed, and may even be made more restrictive, in order to achieve palatable prices. Rising car prices have contributed to unhealthy levels of inflation, and the government seems intent on reining in the spike just as it has been doing in the property market.

The measures appear to have worked, with used car dealers adjusting their prices downwards in the days after the changes were effected. Commentators have opined that it will take about four bidding cycles for the market to internalize the latest changes and for prices to stabilize. The current uniform price auction format using open bids rather than sealed ones has improved transparency and curbed price volatility, so wild swings in prices month-on-month will be unlikely. However, much more needs to be done to prevent the peaks and troughs in COE prices seen in the 2009 to 2012 bidding period.

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