Monday October 10, 2011
Bus and taxi operators gain more from the Budget
By JASTIN AHMAD TARMIZI
WHILE there were announcements in the Budget 2012 that were encouraging for public transportation in the Klang Valley, many believe that there is still room for improvement.
Taxi owners and bus operators were the biggest beneficiaries in the public transport sector.
Locally-made budget taxis will be exempted from excise duty, sales tax and road tax.
Some RM150mil will also be injected into the Public Transport Development Fund to give soft loans to bus operators.
However, other public transport received little attention such as LRT and MRT, seeing only a 50% discount for LRT and Monorail for senior citizens.
The Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit (Transit) spokesman Rajiv Rishyakaran said although there were some “goodies” for the public transport, there was still a lot more that could be done to improve the sector in the Klang Valley.
“They should have done more as it affects the cost of living,” he said.
Rajiv said the announcement that senior citizens would be entitled to a 50% discount for the LRT and Monorail was a good move by the Government.
He said the additional RM150mil for stage and school bus operators to apply for soft loans, with an interest rate of 4% to buy or refurbish buses, would improve services.
“Many bus operators now struggle for financial loans. It will definitely help them,” he said.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Taxi Operators Association president Datuk Aslah Abdullah said they were taken by surprise as it was the first time that taxi owners received special attention in the Budget announcement.
“Exemption on excise duty and sales tax will help to ease the burden of taxi owners,” he said.
However, Aslah said the abolishment of the road tax for individually-owned taxis would not help much as it only cost RM15 every year.
“It is not the road tax that is burdensome. It is the insurance premium every year that is high. Many of them cannot afford it,” he said.
He acknowledged that giving taxi owners RM3,000 for disposing of seven to 10-year-old taxis and RM1,000 for taxis more than 10 years old was a good move.
“This will help ease their burden when they need to sell or buy a new taxi,” he said.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Taxi Drivers Welfare Association chairman M. Manickam felt that more could be done to help taxi drivers.
“Overall, it is a good Budget for us as many of the announcements will benefit us,” he said.
However, Manickam said that while some of them would benefit, there were still many taxi drivers who were not owners of the vehicles.
“Most of the taxi drivers are renting taxis from companies as they find it difficult to get individual permits,” he said.
He added that while now that they could enjoy an interest rate subsidy of 2% on a full loan to buy locally-made taxis, the problem was still not solved for many taxi drivers.
“Many of them are blacklisted or are not eligible for loans. This forces them to rent from taxi companies. The Government should try to help those who are not eligible for loans,” he said.
Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) chairman Gurmit Singh said he had hoped the budget would encourage more people to take public transportation, to reduce carbon emission and fuel consumption.
“There is not much allocated and it would have been better if public transportation was improved to help save the environment,” he said.
The only announcement for green technology and sustainable development was full exemption of import duty and excise duty on hybrid and electric cars that will continue to be given to franchise holders until Dec 31, 2013.
“There are not many provisions for environmental matters.
“To me, it is not that significant as I do not think it will make much difference in fuel consumption and carbon emission,” said Gurmit Singh.
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