AMMAN — Jordan’s environmental NGOs on Monday said that the government’s decision to increase custom duties on small-engine hybrid vehicles will restore the public’s heavy reliance on fuel-run vehicles, thus increasing air pollution.
The NGOs called on the government to rescind its decision, complaining that it was taken without any prior consultation with environmental experts to gauge the decision’s impact on the environment.
President of the Jordan Environmental Union (JEU) Omar Shoshan said that the Kingdom’s Third National Communication to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change identified the transport sector as one of the major contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions in the Kingdom, expressing the union’s distress over the decision which he expects to result in a drop in people’s reliance on hybrid cars that emit less carbon dioxide into the air.
In December last year, the government announced a raise of the custom fees on hybrid vehicles from 25 per cent to 55 per cent. The decision extended the deadline to the end of January only for cars that entered the Kingdom before the end of 2017, according to the president.
Before the decision, hybrid cars used to pay a reduced special sales tax of 25 per cent of its price, instead of 55 per cent for regular fuel cars. The decision came into effect in 2012 and has been renewed every year henceforth.
People are also given the choice to de-register old fully gasoline-operated cars (10 years or older), hand them to authorities and receive a partial exemption from the special sales tax to register a new hybrid car, on which the tax levied is 12.5 per cent, instead of 40 per cent for regular cars.
Every year, the extension decision is made during the last quarter of the year, but the government announced it was terminating its 2012 decision.
“In light of an absent environment-friendly and efficient transport system, the government is demanded to provide alternatives that protect the air from pollution and also support the socio-economic conditions of people,” Shoshan said in a press conference at the union’s headquarters in Shmeisani.
The JEU demanded that the government set clear and sustainable policies and also demanded parliament to draft clear regulations that limit the government’s domination over decisions that affect the environment and people’s right to enjoy a clean environment.
Shoshan said that the union will meet today (Tuesday) with members of the Lower House committee on health and environment to discuss the ramifications of the decision and to study ways to have it revisited.
Speaking at the press conference, President of the Jordan Free Zone Investor Commission Nabeel Romman said that the government took the decision on the special tax on hybrid cars without consulting with the private sector.
Romman said that the decision will affect the automobile sector as a whole, highlighting that it supports the livelihoods of some 250,000 families.
The number of customs-cleared hybrid vehicles in Jordan stood at 31,500 in 2017, Romman said, noting that the number of fuel-run vehicles cleared at the same year stood at 33,000 vehicles.