Who will profit from a ban on right hand steering wheel cars?

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text: Oleg Sidorov , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
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Who will profit from a ban on right hand steering wheel cars? The peaceful and calm life of the Kazakhstani society, at times rippled by mergers between big political parties, was really broken seemingly for good on November 13.

What happened on that unfortunate day, the thirteenth? Almost nothing - the National Security Council met on that day and the head of state issued an order to ban as from 1 January, 2007, the import of the right hand drive cars to Kazakhstan.

Afterwards the meeting of the Security Council decreed to ban "in three years the exploitation of the right hand drive cars." It means that depending on a government decision - either from the beginning of 2009, or from the beginning of 2010 the exploitation of the RHD cars will be completely prohibited.

This news shocked numerous owners of the RHD cars. A growth of dissatisfaction with the government actions is being observed each day in the republic.

As a result today there are several big entities involving big numbers of the Kazakhstani citizens ready for a conflict with the authorities.

The first group is the community of owners of Japanese RHD cars.

A portrayal of an average representative of this community can be sketched easily - he is from either the middle class or from the upper middle class, a businessperson, a specialist, or a manager. It is the very middle class to which the president of Kazakhstan appeals in his addresses to the nation calling it a prop of the country's further economic development. This community, purchasing Japanese RHD cars pursues two objectives - driving comfortably for affordable prices. In this case the chief slogan of this group is "correlation between the quality and the price."

It is opposed by the executive, legislative, and law enforcement authorities. This entity wants to resolve the traffic problems easily and without any significant costs.

The lobby group is in this case represented by five subgroups:

1. Official dealers (the so called "white" ones) supplying expensive foreign cars;

2. Banks grantting loans for the acquisition of cars;

3. Service stations that will transform the RHD cars into LHD cars.

4. LHD car assembly plants located on the territory of Kazakhstan;

5. Russian car producers.

And finally, the third group includes businesspersons and other people involved in the process of the delivery of Japanese cars into Kazakhstan and their servicing.

This group is numerous as well. Its main interest is to attain profits and provide means for living for themselves and their families.

What is going to happen after 1 January, 2007, in Kazakhstan and how this conflict is going to develop?

At the level of legality there are a lot of curious questions to this decree expected to be issued by Astana. Many realise that the ban on exploitation of the RHD cars from 2009 directly violates the constitutional rights of the Kazakhstani citizens.

In this case it is enough to get acquainted with the article 26 of the Constitution, saying that:

"1. Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan have a right to possess any legally acquired property.

2. The property ownership, including the inherited property, is guaranteed by the law.

3. Nobody can be deprived of their property, except by a court decision. Forced alienation of property for state needs in exceptional cases provided by the law can be carried out only if it is compensated on an equal basis.

4. Everybody has a right for business activities, free use of their property for any legal business activities. Monopolist activities are regulated and limited by the law. Unfair competition is prohibited".

Such violation of the Constitution can trigger negative reactions both in Kazakhstan and beyond, including Europe, for which violation of the private property rights is the gravest crime after attempts against human life and health.

Mass protest actions of owners of the RHD cars have already been started in Kazakhstan.

The official figure 117 thousand should be multiplied. These car owners have families and friends, so it must be tripled. The people working in the import and services of the RHD cars, their families and friends should be added as well, so we get around 500,000 people.

And now can we really imagine the consequences of these protest actions?

The history shows that unpopular decisions made at the state level always encountered resentment on the part of the population. The identical attempts recently failed in Russia, provoking social unrest.

Last week-end saw unsanctioned meetings at the Republic Square in Almaty. It is still unknown what awaits these people, because we are not yet sure whether the government is actually going to violate the Constitution and how different social strata representing the middle class are going to react.

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