KARACHI - The car buyers have become the victims of paying 'extra money' on purchase of either indigenous or imported of any value, brand, model and colour to get it timely. The phenomenon of profiteering from booking to delivery of new locally produced or imported four-wheeler is being practiced by the all players and traders who are allegedly involved in it to make huge profit. As the federal financial budget for 2008-09 is approaching soon, the debate over the payment of premium (own money) between car dealers and assemblers is on the rise by starting a blame game by both of them.     On the one side, the car dealers have blamed some authorized dealers which termed as "agents of OEMs auto assemblers" who are involved in black-marketing and creating artificially crisis like situation in the market not only for immediate release but also for normal delivery period in both cases. They asked for charging extra money regardless actual price of the car ranging from Rs 30,000 to 200,000 (0.2 million) on various (CBU/SKD) locally manufactured or imported variants from the buyers. This income is transferred into assemblers' account which gets increased company's revenue rather than dealers' earning. All the government's move from suspension of 2.5% withholding to withdraw of National Tax Return (NTR) are benefiting only industrial profit and not to providing relief to the consumers. The car dealers told The Nation that the exercise of charging money beyond original price in the name of premium was badly hurting their business causing vehicle sales decline. "Due to fluctuations in market which is varied from demand to availability determines the value of the own money, said car dealers & import association representative, adding that the vehicle delivery period is based on one week to three months but by paying big amount of money, the car can be delivered within a single day.    On the other hand industry sources said, "Many buyers are impatient, and unwilling to wait even for a short period for delivery. If customers are patient and wait for their turn, there would be no premiums. Only those customers pay premium who agree to pay so, the transaction is completed knowingly and by mutual consent by both sides. Any consumers forced to buy on premium should complain to the manufacturers". OEMs are not responsible for, or benefiting from, premiums. It is the unauthorized middleman that rips off the end customer and actually makes the most profit, which is also tax-free as middlemen like roadside dealers/investors are not income tax registered, do not pay sales tax, and conduct transactions in a non-documented manner, said industry sources. Meanwhile referring to the issue of premiums, the auto industry sources said that there is no law in the land that prohibits resale at higher price by anyone. Consider other markets too e.g. real estate, agricultural commodities, chemicals, etc. In Pakistan, usually the middleman makes the most profit, and usually, it is undocumented and tax free. It is pertinent to mention here that the business of future trading is also working in the auto sector and most of the selling transactions are being done in this way. The assemblers' company agents are booked delivery orders for three months and in the meantime they are supposed to increase the amount of premium according to the market conditions. Hence these agents create crisis by delaying it availability in the market owing to low production of cars by locally manufacturers.        Many, many suggestions and quotes of premium are given by dealers, but very, very few premium cases actually occur, as few people actually agree to give premium and these cases are blown out of proportion as these customers then take out their frustration of having paid a higher price, even though they consented to it. Responsible OEMs, have initiated surveys, surprise visits and campaigns to ensure that premiums are curtailed, and quality customer service is ensured. IMC has also taken various other measures to restrict this such as taking the NIC and NTN no of the buyer, the payment instrument has to carry the buyer's name, the Company pays interest on vehicles that are delivered over 60 days (although this happens rarely now because of enhanced production), the Company will refund the entire amount if the customer decided to cancel the order anytime before the delivery, said sources. Talking to The Nation IMC official said, today, the company can deliver all Toyota cars within ONE WEEK and I don't know who is asking for premiums or is willing to pay premiums. For Cuore CNG, we are tied to delivery of CNG kits for which there is a worldwide shortage and the delay may be there up to one month or so, because of color or variant. OEMs, including IMC, have increased capacity, ensuring immediate delivery for consumers, thereby negating the excuse for premiums. Of course, if a customer wants a specific color in a specific variant of a model, then there may be some delay as production of cars is done in lots, each lot of cars is of the same color and variant. Premiums are a practice instigated by roadside dealers, investors and resellers, thus consumers should always buy from authorized dealers if there is information on a specific case of premium charging by an authorized dealer (especially IMC) with proof, the company will take action against the dealership, added sources. OEMs said, they do not have a magic wand to produce cars as and when demand is made, so that every brand, model, variant, color is not always available off the shelf customer needs for cars keep changing depending on factors that are quite unpredictable also e.g. political disturbances, international prices and availability of raw materials and inputs for car manufacturing, fuel prices, changes in govt policies like  withholding tax application/withdrawal cycles, supplies by vendors, load shedding, etc, etc. All these cause shifts in demand by customers, both in terms of their timing as well as product mix making forecasting a nightmare and making timely production difficult. Remember a car has over 10,000 parts and some imported parts have lead times (for supply) of 5 months it is really a remarkable achievement that OEMs have enhanced their capacity by 4 times in 5 years, the fastest auto industry expansion anywhere in the world.