Gaining Traction

Dear friends,

It is comforting to note that after the widespread disruption caused by the demonetisation of high-currency notes, the auto market is slowly but surely settling down, if the sales figures for the month of February are any guide.
A pragmatic Union Budget presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister on 1st February has also, to some extent, improved the sentiment, and given boost to the auto market. The sales are yet to reach the numbers witnessed pre-demonetisation, though.

As informed through my previous column, a 35-member FADA delegation participated at the 2017 NADA Convention, which also marked the celebrations of 100 years of NADA that came into being in 1917 following the imposition of luxury tax on cars by the then US Government. NADA’s 100-year illustrious service to the automobile dealer fraternity and its phenomenal contribution in protecting and promoting the interest of auto retail market in the US, send out a strong message that an umbrella organisation like FADA can do wonders if the automobile dealers unite and organise themselves under its banner.

The delegation members also took the opportunity of visiting two automobile dealerships in Atlanta. The visit was quite an enriching experience for all the delegation members. It was also an occasion to rejoice and join NADA in its centenary celebrations. Besides, FADA’s relations with NADA and other auto retail organisations across the world got a further boost. More importantly, the participation of large delegation under the banner of FADA helped promote fellowship and goodwill among the members.

Regarding the other activities of FADA since my previous column, taking our agenda of deepening understanding and relations with OEMs forward, FADA team of office bearers held meetings with the CEOs and other senior officials of Ford India and Mercedes-Benz India, separately on 1st March & 2nd March, respectively. The discussion majorly centred around the issues of skilling & training of manpower, inventory control & management, and exit route for automobile dealers. It is heartening to note that most of the issues taken up and discussed at these meetings evoked positive response.

FADA team of office bearers also held a meeting with Mr Abhay Damle, Jt Secretary (Transport), Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) in his office at New Delhi to discuss the confusion caused by the media reports and orders of some of the State Governments that BS-III compliant vehicles would not be allowed to be sold or registered w.e.f. 1st April 2017. It was vehemently submitted to Mr Damle that banning sale or registration of BS-III vehicles, in stock with the dealers, from 1st April 2017 is contrary to the letter and spirit of notifications issued by the Government of India (MoRTH). FADA team pointed out that the designated date of 1st April 2017 for BS-IV vehicles is with reference to the manufacture or production.

I am happy to inform that the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has taken a stand in the case: M C Mehta vs Union of India & Ors before the Supreme Court that BS-III vehicles stock in transit as at the end of the day on 31st March 2017 should be allowed to be sold on or after 1st April 2017, in keeping the intent of the notifications issued by the Ministry and the practice followed in the past. As I write this column, FADA is also filing an intervention application before the Supreme  Court.  The next hearing in the case is on 24th March 2017. We are hopeful of a favourable order in this regard.

The next meeting of FADA Council is scheduled for 22nd April 2017 at Jaipur. A regional meeting and an awards ceremony recognising the meritorious connected with the auto retail trade in the State of Rajasthan have also been dovetailed with the Council Meeting. Members are cordially invited to attend the Regional Meeting and the awards ceremony followed by dinner.

Look forward to your inputs and suggestions.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

John K Paul

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