Sat, Jan 10, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Government's transport policy confusing: experts

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Transportation researchers on Thursday criticized giving sales tax breaks to motorcycle and car buyers, saying it was confusing the public about the government’s public transportation policy.

The legislature’s Finance Committee approved on Monday an amendment to Section 1 of Article 12 in the Commodity Tax Act (貨物稅條例). Those purchasing passenger and cargo motor vehicles that are below 2,000 cylinder capacity this year are entitled to a sales tax break of NT$30,000 per vehicle. Motorcycle buyers also get a sales tax break of NT$3,000.

CONSERVING ENERGY

Chang Sheng-hsiung (張勝雄), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Transportation Management Department, said the government had asked the public to conserve energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions when oil prices were skyrocketing last summer. Because of this, public transportation users increased by 30 percent around that time.

However, the government did not enforce the same policy when oil prices slid toward the end of last year and instead chose to subsidize car and motorcycle buyers.

“Every year, the government has to give public transportation service providers approximately NT$800 million [US$24.1 million] in subsidies to help fund their operations, which has already been a burden to the nation,” he said at a seminar organized by the Taipei Traffic and Culture Foundation.

“But the government now wants to spend NT$9 billion funding the car buyers. You wonder what the government’s public transportation policy is, exactly,” Chang said.

LOSSES

Huang Tai-sheng (黃台生), an ssociate professor at the institute of traffic and transportation at National Chiao Tung University, told the same seminar that rising oil prices led to huge financial losses for the transportation sector.

As oil prices are expected to fluctuate more frequently than before, the government has to be aware of its impact on the public transportation industry and how it affects consumers, he said.

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