ISLAMABAD – Car dealers are expecting a huge surge in sales this month as political parties equip themselves for the upcoming election campaign.

A caretaker setup is scheduled to take over in less than two weeks from President Asif Ali Zardari’s government, which will become the first elected civilian administration in Pakistan to complete a full-term in office.

The dissolution of parliament will mark the start of campaign season and H.M. Shahzad, chairman of the All-Pakistan Motor Dealers Association, told AFP his members were looking forward to a boom in business.

“We expect a 100 percent increase in car sales during the election campaign,” Shahzad said. Rental vehicles are expensive so candidates and their supporters are likely to buy new or second-hand cars to travel around the country canvassing for votes, he said.

But Shahzad warned that recent moves to relax rules on buying and importing cars could have damaging consequences and may see vehicles used as bargaining chips during the election campaign. The govt has done away with the need to submit national tax certificate numbers for purchasing new cars.

, and Shahzad has written to the chief election commissioner to warn this would make it easier to buy influence at the polls.

“Influential non-tax payers can buy any number of cars to give as bribes to voters, workers and in horse-trading, without coming into the limelight,” he said.

Shahzad added that a government amnesty for smuggled vehicles, which will see thousands legalised in the coming weeks, will penalise importers who played by the rules.

“We pay millions of rupees of import duties and taxes to the government, but the amnesty on smuggled vehicles will discourage legal imports and impact government revenue,” he said.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.