The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday said it would refund drivers who overpaid vehicle fuel charges because of errors in calculations spanning nearly three decades.
The decision to provide a refund was made after the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that the ministry had overcharged drivers by about NT$1.1 billion (US$37.2 million) in fuel charges for 29 years.
The errors did not come to light until a journalist calculated the charge for each type of car using the figures and equations provided by the ministry. No one in the ministry, including a total of 14 ministers, detected the errors in the fuel charge table, the newspaper said.
Department of Railways and Highways Director-General Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) said the ministry apologized for the mistake and would refund drivers as soon as possible.
Revenue from the fuel charge has been used for road construction and maintenance, Chen said. The fuel charge table that the ministry has been using was first used in 1983, when employees at the ministry still had to manually calculate the charge for each type of vehicle.
The ministry said it had identified four major errors in its fuel charge table following the newspaper report.
Owners of gasoline-powered small passenger vehicles with engine displacement volume of between 1,810CC and 2,400CC have been overcharged by NT$30 per year, or a total of NT$1.07 billion.
Those owing diesel-powered small passenger vehicles of the same engine displacement volume have been overcharged by NT$18 per year. For diesel--powered large commercial use vehicles of between 6,601CC and 7,200CC, owners have been overcharged NT$95 per season. The ministry estimated that owners of these two categories have been overcharged a total of NT$38 million.
However, owners of diesel-powered large private passenger cars of between 5,410CC and 6,000CC have been undercharged by NT$2 per year.
Chen said the ministry started levying the vehicle fuel charge for owners of large-sized motorcycles in 2002. Those owning motorcycles of between 1,201CC and 1,800CC have been undercharged NT$30 per year because the ministry failed to round up the fuel consumption volume when it calculated the fuel charge, the ministry said.
Chen said the ministry has decided, in principle, to refund those who were overcharged, adding that the Directorate--General of Highways has been ordered to come up details of how to do so within a month.
Those who had their car license plates changed in 1995 and are still driving their cars can expect to receive their refund in July.
Chen said about 2.18 million car owners are in this category, and the overcharges will be automatically deducted from this year’s fuel charge bill.
However, those whose cars have not been in use or whose cars have been sold to others will be notified to claim their refunds.
Chen said that the ministry might have a problem notifying motorists driving cars manufactured between 1983 and 1995, because the information in the vehicle management system might be incomplete.