Bill waiving taxes on electric car imports becomes law

A bill to waive taxes on electric cars being imported to Samoa was approved after the final reading in Parliament on Tuesday.

Electric cars, such as those made popular by the manufacturer Tesla, can be imported free of duty tax and excise taxes, for the next two years but the taxes will apply to the parts of the said vehicles. 

Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said the reforms are designed with the mitigating against the impact of climate change in mind.

The bill 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.

The Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) is currently inviting interested bidders to supply charging stations for electric vehicles.

“All bids must observe the bidding process and specification(s),” read the statement.

The bill also targets effect on charging stations. Eligible energy saving items such as plant, equipment and machinery can be determined waiver-free by the relevant Minister as he sees fit. 

During Parliament in August Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, spoke about 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.

Former Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai was against the measure when it was introduced in August. 

He cautioned that 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.”

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