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Vehicle overcrowding concerns commerce chamber

Manasa Kalouniviti
Saturday, June 17, 2017

THE Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) last month made their submissions on the 2017-2018 National Budget and one of their major concerns was on curbing the ever increasing vehicle population that is contributing to huge traffic and also to help lower overall vehicle emissions through better efficiency.

They have asked Government to implement the following measures to help in this area under the subhead of fuel standard/import of vehicles/clean transportation policies in their submission:

1. The Euro 5 unleaded and Euro 5 - 10 ppm sulphur for diesel fuel standards should be announced in this budget and to be effective from January 1, 2018, whereby all imported second-hand vehicles (including Hybrids) must be five years old or less.

This will ensure better imported technology and availability of spare parts; it will push the price up a little to curb the ever increasing vehicle population.

2. To encourage use of public transportation and to mitigate traffic caused by increasing private vehicles, it is strongly suggested to introduce a carbon tax of two (2) per cent only on private vehicles' (not Hybrid or electric vehicles) first-time registrations. The reason for this tax is to enable a change in mind-set by both motor dealers, importers and consumers and offer better choices to buyers, encouraging purchase of more hybrid or electric cars.

Such a tax will also contribute to our climate change initiatives and mitigate our fossil fuel import bill and contribute to a cleaner air with less emission and green house gases. The key question for electric vehicles (EV) uptake what incentives are available on this and what are upfront costs and costs of maintenance when compared with similar sized internal combustion engine vehicles.

3. All electric vehicles (100 per cent electric, not Hybrids) to attract Zero VAT on import and sales.

This will make EV prices more attractive and introduce EV's quicker into the market, contributing to cleaner air and reduction in fossil fuel reliance.

4. All EVs to have free public parking (in designated areas) provided by all municipalities and to be recognised by special windscreen sticker provided by LTA, stating the words "ZERO EMISSION VEHICLE". This will again, encourage purchase of EVs by consumers and businesses.

5. Electric vehicle charging station investment incentive (introduced last year) to be reduced from $3 million to $0.5m with same incentives (7 year tax holiday) for better uptake. Fiji does not need large charging stations as in big developed countries.

FCCI president Peter Mazey told The Fiji Times that a lot of the issues raised related to creating an easier climate within which to do business.

"And while we acknowledge the improvements made, we are encouraging Government to continue and ensure that the ease of doing business continues to improve," he said.

Mr Mazey said the policies they recommended with regard to motor vehicles were because of their concerns with regard to the overcrowding on our roads.

"We are looking forward to a continued approach by Government in investing in infrastructure as through this the business community has an opportunity to grow."

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