The New Straits Times reports that prices of Malaysia’s national cars may rise considerably once the government cuts import duties for imported cars and moves to impose excise duty on all vehicles.

The paper says the government will raise excise duties, possibly to as much as 15%, to offset a cut in import tariffs from this year for completely knocked-down imported vehicles to a flat 20% by 2005. Currently, import tariffs range from 42% to 300% while imported vehicles are not subject to excise duty.

The newspaper adds that equal excise duty treatment on new and imported cars would mean that the price of a 1.6 litre Proton Waja would rise by 11%.

Malaysia’s two national automakers are Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd. and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Bhd.