ISLAMABAD The Government has given a free hand to the auto manufacturers and dealers to exploit the consumers by setting the car prices at their sweet will. The skyrocketed charges in the name of 'own are being gobbled from the hapless consumers by the automobile cartel. With the ban imposed by Government to import second-hand cars, the local car industry is at liberty to monopolise and misuse its position and the consumers have no alternate options other than to purchase local vehicles at unaffordable rates. The automobile dealers and franchise owners of Pak-Suzuki and Toyota Motors are exploiting the customers by charging extra amount in the form of own from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 from every consumer. On the one side the automobile dealers are charging skyrocketing prices from the consumers while on the other hand they are taking heavy amount in form of own. According to the price list of Suzuki Motors, price of Mehran VX (petrol) is only Rs 429,000 while they are charging up to Rs 479,000 as Rs 50,000 as own money, which is not mentioned in the price list. In addition, the car dealers reportedly withhold the original documents of the vehicles even after they are sold to the clients only to pressurise the customers to obtain more money. Some cases have been reported that a customer Mazhar Iqbal bought a Suzuki Bolan from Azim Motors, Sector I-10 Islamabad, which is the authorised dealer of Suzuki motors, some two-and-half months ago. Till date, the original documents have not been handed over to Mazhar, while the customer cannot drive the same vehicle, as it is not registered. Police dont allow the movement of unregistered cars, I have told the police that the original documents are with the dealers but every time I take my van to the road, police stop me, now tell me where should I go he told this correspondent. On the other hand, the accused dealers say that the original documents are issued from Pak-Suzuki Motors Karachi and they cannot do anything in this regard. In the whole exercise the Government is looking helpless against the strong cartel of the automobile dealers and manufacturers and become a silent spectator by not taking a single step to bring the prices down. It is pertinent to mention here that Federal Minister for Industries and Production Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, some two months back, had asked the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) to decrease the prices of vehicles, especially, small ones, which are commonly used by the middle class. However, despite passing of two months, no development has been made yet. Before federal budget 2009-10, the representatives of PAMA demanded to eliminate the five percent Federal Excise Duty in order to cut the prices of vehicles, however, after abolishing the said duty the PAMA decreased the prices for only two to three months and later increased it and set it according to its own will. According to the sources, the PAMA created an artificial shortage of vehicles in the country to exploit the consumers by charging high prices from them. Mr Bilal, Sale Executive Officer of Suzuki Islamabad Motors, while talking to TheNation, admitted that they were charging high amount in the form of own. He said that due to the shortage in the production of vehicles and all the automobile dealers were charging own money in the range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per vehicle. When contacted, Iqbal Ahmed, official Spokesman of the Ministry of Industries and Production for his comment on the issue, accepted that the consumers were facing enormous problems on account of highhandedness of the automobile companies to exploit the consumers. The Government is working on other options to address this issue, he indicated, adding that some high-level meetings would be held to consider the plight of customers. He said that the automobile manufacturers termed the high prices of vehicles as a result of rupee depreciation against the US dollar.