Sunday 15 September, 2019

Imbert: No change on import tax for ‘luxury’ hybrid cars

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said government could not continue with tax waivers on the importation of hybrid vehicles over 2000cc, after questions were raised on hybrid vehicles at a media briefing last Friday.

Imbert Tweeted a correction to a media report on taxes on hybrid vehicles on Tuesday.

A statement from the Ministry stated as follows:

“On Friday, May 17th, 2019, at a press conference at the Ministry of Finance, Minister Imbert specifically stated that there would be no changes to the existing regime of taxes on hybrid vehicles. However, Power 102FM erroneously broadcasted that the Minister said that the taxes on hybrid cars will be increased. This is not true.”

“For the record, since December 2017, all new hybrid vehicles or used hybrid vehicles which are imported for private or commercial use, with an engine size not exceeding 1599 cc have been exempt from Customs Duty, Motor Vehicle Tax and Value Added Tax.”

“This tax-free concession on hybrid cars with engine sizes not exceeding 1599 cc, was implemented by way of the Finance Act No. 15 of 2017, assented to on December 19, 2017, and has not been adjusted or changed in any way, nor is it the intention of the Government to change this concession,” the statement said.

Imbert said at a media briefing on May 17 that the removal of tax waivers on hybrid vehicles with engine sizes over 1599cc would not be revised.

He was responding to comments by Pres­i­dent of the T&T Au­to­mo­tive Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Visham Bab­wah, who called on government to do more to facilitate the purchase of hybrid vehicles.


“The people that buy cars from them, obviously they want us to revisit our decision to remove the tax-free concessions on hybrid cars (over 1599cc). We had made a decision to encourage people to use fuel-efficient vehicles to waive tax on hybrid cars of a certain engine size. We lost $350 million in customs duty in one year because of that.”

“We decided we can’t continue like this because everyone was switching to 2000cc hybrids which were exempt from VAT, duty and motor vehicle tax,” he said.

Tax waivers on hybrid vehicles over 1599cc were removed in 2017.


T&T third largest per capita in greenhouse gas emissions

According to 2014 data provided by the World Bank, Trinidad and Tobago is the third largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions per capita (34.2) - higher than Kuwait (25.2), Saudi Arabia (19.5), and the USA (16.5).

According to a 2015 document titled ‘Strategy for Reduction of Carbon Emissions in Trinidad and Tobago’ from the Ministry of Planning and Development, temperatures have been climbing in Trinidad and Tobago.

The mean annual temperature in Trinidad and Tobago has increased by around 0.6 degrees Celsius since 1960.

Additionally, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS) found that the annual mean air temperature has warmed over the period 1981-2010 by 0.8 and 0.5 ºC relative to 1961-1990 and 1971-1990, for Trinidad and Tobago respectively.

In June 2017 Government said it aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by December 31, 2030.


How do greenhouse gas emissions affect the environment?

Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes.

Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation in the US is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel.

As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), T&T is vulnerable to temperature increases, changes in precipitation and sea level rise. Other vulnerabilities include increased flooding, increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, hillside erosion and loss of coastal habitats.

Although Trinidad and Tobago is not in the main Atlantic hurricane belt, one of the new natural hazards scenarios considered for the country is the increased potential to be hit by tropical storms.

Other side effects include increased forest fires, flooding, landslides, crop failures, and other natural disasters.

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