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The Punjab Excise Department has embarked on a comprehensive restructuring of the process involved in issuing computerized number plates for vehicles, driven by the persistent complaints from the public and operational hurdles faced by authorities over the years.

Despite having collected fees from approximately three million vehicle owners in the province over the last three years, the department has grappled with ongoing delays in issuing number plates, prompting the need for a systemic overhaul.

Acknowledging the imperative for reform, the provincial cabinet has sanctioned the termination of the government’s monopoly on number plate production, ushering in a new era of open licensing to engage multiple companies and institutions in the manufacturing and distribution processes.

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In the reformed system, applicants will no longer bear the burden of fees for new computerized number plates, a departure from previous norms, aimed at streamlining the registration process and easing financial strains on vehicle and motorcycle owners.

Faisal Fareed, the Excise Director General, has taken the lead in implementing the cabinet’s directive, issuing a notification to Excise Secretary Masood Mukhtar to immediately cease fee collection for number plates associated with new or duplicate registration requests.

The transition to an open licensing framework is anticipated to stimulate healthy competition among private entities registered under the scheme, potentially resulting in savings of up to Rs500 for vehicle owners compared to prevailing government rates.

Nevertheless, the department confronts challenges in tackling the backlog of pending number plates for millions of citizens, a legacy of past inefficiencies. Prior efforts to modernize the vehicle registration system, including collaborations with federal agencies, have encountered hurdles and disputes regarding fee structures.

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