Bill to waive taxes on electric cars
Parliament is considering a proposal to waive taxes on electric cars being imported into Samoa. But an Independent Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, has questioned how much "public benefit" such legislation would achieve.
If approved into law, electric cars, such as those made popular by the manufacturer Tesla, can be imported free of duty tax and excise taxes.
Under the Government’s plans, excises and duties will be waived for the next two years for electric-powered cars, but the taxes will apply to the parts of the said vehicles.
Individuals or car dealers can order these cars, said the Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, and the planned reforms are designed to encourage the use of fuel and the impact of climate change.
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, underscored the impact of climate change and said that the proposal would be Samoa’s contribution to minimising carbon emissions.
“While the [electric] cars are expensive, this is one way to express that we are serious about our fight against climate change and it is a bold yet important move,” said the Prime Minister.
Olo said it appears the law was something of a relief but also noted that it lasts for only two years.
“And so I am asking why it is only two years; it appears this law is made specifically for a certain company that will order in such cars, but keep in mind these cars will not benefit everyone, they are too expensive, and not everyone can afford it,” he said.
“I would think that with the current situation we are in the Government would prioritise waving taxes for trucks and equipment imported in to develop farming.
“We are facing a global crisis and given the economic situation, it is time to go back to farming to ensure that food security is solid.
“These vehicles are expensive and it’s double the price for normal cars and to say that this law will benefit the country is wrong, and I will not accept it.”
The proposed lawn would also allow for eligible energy saving items such as plant, equipment and machinery - including vehicles - to be determined to be waiver-free by the relevant Minister from time to time.
“Items must, in the opinion of the Minister, use alternative power such as solar, wind, electricity, water etc or a combination of the above with fossil fuel or other alternative energy sources such as hybrid vehicles and energy saving devices,” the bill states.
Olo however objected to the discretion the law afforded Ministers.
“Why are we giving [Ministers] the discretion, we hear from time to time issues arising from vehicles being imported into the country?,” he said.
“Why not just put down the specific percent that can be paid on the spot, so that way the law is applicable to everyone, but not just those the Minister prefers and in my respectful view is not right.”
Tuilaepa took the floor and reminded Olo that he should not make allegations without examining himself first.
“This saying that only the rich that can afford to buy the [electric] cars, was what was said back when the Government was moving to switch to the right hand drive cars and look at what’s happening everyone can afford a car,” he said.
According to the Prime Minister there were widespread protests by families but now all can afford a right hand drive car.
“And there is no denying the [electric cars] are expensive but the reason it is because not many can buy it due to the high taxes; but there are others that can afford it and having minimal gas emissions is every country’s goal,” said the Prime Minister.